Money Diary: A Marketing & Communications Manager In Norwich On 32k

·16-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 25-year-old marketing and communications manager living in Norwich. I moved here for university and met my partner early on during our studies. After graduating we both moved into creative roles and saved together for our first house, which we were delighted to secure this year. It was a massive achievement for us to put down our deposit without any help from friends or family, and this is something we’re really proud to have achieved together.

I'm a saver but definitely have a tendency to splurge to pick myself up every now and then. Growing up we didn’t have much, and the luxury of having a little bit of extra money in my back pocket to spend on clothes, food and days out can be too hard for me to resist sometimes. However, as we’re planning on getting married this year – and hoping to do some renovations to our home – I’m trying to curb the habit and get back to saving more seriously."

Occupation: Marketing and communications manager
Industry: Technology
Age: 25
Location: Norwich 
Salary: £32,000
Paycheque amount: £525 a week after tax, national insurance and student loan
Number of housemates: One (my fiancé)
Pronouns: She/her
 
Monthly Expenses
 
Housing costs: £650 mortgage. My fiancé and I went for a 30+ year mortgage term after a lot of soul-searching as it minimised our monthly payments. While it means we will be paying the mortgage for a longer period, it gives us more flexibility month to month because costs are reduced, and it means that we could have slightly more freedom when it comes to making big decisions like moving jobs.
Loan payments: My student loan is around £35,000 and I pay back less than £100 a month.
Pension? £100 a month.
Savings? £7,000 in savings, with half ownership of a city-centre, two-bedroom house. My partner and I split all of our bills and regular payments equally (with a complete 50/50 divide) but we each have our own savings accounts that we pay into each month for ourselves.
Utilities: £150 council tax, £100 gas and electricity, £20+ contents insurance, £10+ house insurance, £160 annual TV licence.
All other monthly payments: £9 data and calls contract. £10 monthly charity donations (including charity lotteries). Subscriptions: £10 Netflix, £5 Spotify Premium (split between two).

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

I studied for a bachelor's degree and was awarded a bursary for my stay for each of the three years of my course. I also had a student loan to cover housing costs, which were quite a considerable amount for my university. Since then I have also studied career-related online courses but fortunately my workplace has paid for these.
 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?

I am from a very large family and from a very young age I was aware that our finances were stretched. Although we never went hungry and really never struggled for anything, we never had anything 'new'. We always wore secondhand clothes, played with secondhand toys and were cost-conscious about everything we did. Both of my parents worked, with my mum working zero-hour contracts as a cleaner to fit work around picking us up from school and taking us to after-school classes. Money was spoken about openly and I think that being exposed to that level of financial transparency from an early age made me really conscious of the value of money and made me appreciate what we had more than other children around me did.
 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?

I moved out of my parents' house when I moved to university. I didn’t ever move back after I graduated as my fiancé (then boyfriend) and I saved all we could to move straight into a small rented flat.

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

I moved out of the house when I was 18 and have been financially responsible for myself since then. I am sure that my parents would step in and support me financially if I needed it but their savings are really limited and realistically wouldn't sustain me for long with regular payments for loans such as my mortgage.
 
What was your first job and why did you get it?

I worked as a babysitter for much of my early teenage years but my first paycheque came from the job I took as a bakery assistant in my local town. I was 16 and was eager to save for new clothes and days out with my friends, who were given allowances by their parents.
 
Do you worry about money now?

Definitely. In many ways I'm more comfortable than I have ever been but big commitments like my mortgage and student loan do hang over my head and at times I worry that I've lost some flexibility in tying myself down financially in such a way. My partner and I have just got engaged and we are actively saving for the big day but in some ways it is another financial worry for us. Fortunately, we're both really keen to elope in London and have a micro wedding with just the two of us, but we do hope to splash out on a fancy hotel and meal for us both.
 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

I've never received any inherited income. I'm from a working-class family and finances were limited but I did receive objects and heirlooms from my family that I really cherish and value.

<strong>Day One</strong><br><br>8.15am: I commute into the office twice a week and on Mondays I treat myself to a vanilla latte for my journey, £2.85. The walk to work takes around 20 minutes and I really enjoy starting the day with something sweet as it distracts from a journey that mostly consists of walking down pavements on busy roads.<br> <br>1pm: I always aim to pack my lunch for work but rarely remember. Since we bought a puppy earlier this year, our evenings have been spent playing with him and making sure he's socialised by taking him on long walks, so evening time is precious. I really want to grab lunch at the local Subway but as we're saving for our wedding I opt for a Tesco meal deal instead, £3. Once I get back I grab an apple from the office fruit bowl and pinch a couple of biscuits from the biscuit tin.<br><br>7pm: After a long day at work, filled with meetings, I come home craving a takeaway. My fiancé, who is often the voice of reason, talks me down and reminds me that we're saving for the wedding – and trying to lose weight for it, too. We end up having a home-cooked, one-pot rice dish and binge-watching the latest period drama. <br><br>7.30pm: I grab my meal deal smoothie I saved from earlier and drink it with the fridge door open.<br> <br>8pm: Our puppy is still only very young so we have to limit walks to around 20 minutes or so. This really restricts our ability to go very far and we often end up walking to the local corner shop as it makes for a 20-minute round trip. While I always try to convince myself that I won't go in, I often end up visiting the shop for a late-night snack. This evening I buy a bar of Cadbury Marvellous Creations and eat a third of it on the way home. £2<br> <br>11pm: Bed.<br><br><strong>Total: £7.85</strong>
Day One

8.15am: I commute into the office twice a week and on Mondays I treat myself to a vanilla latte for my journey, £2.85. The walk to work takes around 20 minutes and I really enjoy starting the day with something sweet as it distracts from a journey that mostly consists of walking down pavements on busy roads.

1pm: I always aim to pack my lunch for work but rarely remember. Since we bought a puppy earlier this year, our evenings have been spent playing with him and making sure he's socialised by taking him on long walks, so evening time is precious. I really want to grab lunch at the local Subway but as we're saving for our wedding I opt for a Tesco meal deal instead, £3. Once I get back I grab an apple from the office fruit bowl and pinch a couple of biscuits from the biscuit tin.

7pm: After a long day at work, filled with meetings, I come home craving a takeaway. My fiancé, who is often the voice of reason, talks me down and reminds me that we're saving for the wedding – and trying to lose weight for it, too. We end up having a home-cooked, one-pot rice dish and binge-watching the latest period drama.

7.30pm: I grab my meal deal smoothie I saved from earlier and drink it with the fridge door open.

8pm: Our puppy is still only very young so we have to limit walks to around 20 minutes or so. This really restricts our ability to go very far and we often end up walking to the local corner shop as it makes for a 20-minute round trip. While I always try to convince myself that I won't go in, I often end up visiting the shop for a late-night snack. This evening I buy a bar of Cadbury Marvellous Creations and eat a third of it on the way home. £2

11pm: Bed.

Total: £7.85
<strong>Day Two</strong><br><br>7.30am: This morning I decide that a coffee from home will be just as nice as a store-bought coffee but after searching the cupboards and struggling to find a heatproof cup, I'm quickly running out of time. In the end I go to the Tesco near me and grab a latte from the Costa self-service machine, £2.85. I then spill half of it on my white trainers during the walk to work.<br> <br>2pm: After a long morning of back-to-back meetings, I break for lunch at 2pm with only a half-hour slot before the next meeting. I end up going to Subway after seeing the queue at Tesco. I ask for a 6-inch and end up with a footlong, £7. This is twice what I was hoping to pay but I eat every last bite.<br> <br>6pm: I visit the local corner shop on my way home after my fiancé texts me that we need some bits for the house. I grab chorizo, vegetables and milk and berate myself for not walking further to the cheaper shop. £8.50 <br><br>7pm: We make a chorizo stew for dinner and share the crisps from yesterday's meal deal on our walk with the dog afterwards. <br> <br>8.15pm: We run out of poo bags for the puppy at the end of our walk. We grab a pack of biodegradable bags from the corner shop to tide us over. £2<br> <br>10.30pm: We go up to bed and watch YouTube videos until 11pm ish.<br><br><strong>Total: £20.35</strong>
Day Two

7.30am: This morning I decide that a coffee from home will be just as nice as a store-bought coffee but after searching the cupboards and struggling to find a heatproof cup, I'm quickly running out of time. In the end I go to the Tesco near me and grab a latte from the Costa self-service machine, £2.85. I then spill half of it on my white trainers during the walk to work.

2pm: After a long morning of back-to-back meetings, I break for lunch at 2pm with only a half-hour slot before the next meeting. I end up going to Subway after seeing the queue at Tesco. I ask for a 6-inch and end up with a footlong, £7. This is twice what I was hoping to pay but I eat every last bite.

6pm: I visit the local corner shop on my way home after my fiancé texts me that we need some bits for the house. I grab chorizo, vegetables and milk and berate myself for not walking further to the cheaper shop. £8.50

7pm: We make a chorizo stew for dinner and share the crisps from yesterday's meal deal on our walk with the dog afterwards.

8.15pm: We run out of poo bags for the puppy at the end of our walk. We grab a pack of biodegradable bags from the corner shop to tide us over. £2

10.30pm: We go up to bed and watch YouTube videos until 11pm ish.

Total: £20.35
<strong>Day Three</strong><br><br>7am: Today I'm working from home so I eat whatever I can find in the house for breakfast. Today's feast consists of muesli and an apple. <br> <br>12.30pm: The boiler breaks down and we don't have any hot water. We panic and call our usual plumber, who informs us he is on holiday for the next two weeks. Eventually we call the big local franchise and pay for a callout fee and the new boiler part, £450. I have to dip into my savings to cover my half.<br> <br>6pm: We end up walking the dog earlier than planned as we all need to leave the house. We walk to the supermarket and opt for a frozen pizza instead of our planned Chinese takeaway to save money. £5.99<br> <br>7pm: I spend the evening researching insurance cover plans for the boiler to try to avoid such unexpected costs again. I find a local provider who covers boilers and radiators, with callouts and parts included for a monthly fee. I wince at having to pay more boiler-related fees but tell myself it's for the best. £19.99 <br> <br>10.30pm: Sleep.<br><br><strong>Total: £475.98</strong>
Day Three

7am: Today I'm working from home so I eat whatever I can find in the house for breakfast. Today's feast consists of muesli and an apple.

12.30pm: The boiler breaks down and we don't have any hot water. We panic and call our usual plumber, who informs us he is on holiday for the next two weeks. Eventually we call the big local franchise and pay for a callout fee and the new boiler part, £450. I have to dip into my savings to cover my half.

6pm: We end up walking the dog earlier than planned as we all need to leave the house. We walk to the supermarket and opt for a frozen pizza instead of our planned Chinese takeaway to save money. £5.99

7pm: I spend the evening researching insurance cover plans for the boiler to try to avoid such unexpected costs again. I find a local provider who covers boilers and radiators, with callouts and parts included for a monthly fee. I wince at having to pay more boiler-related fees but tell myself it's for the best. £19.99

10.30pm: Sleep.

Total: £475.98
<strong>Day Four</strong><br><br>7am: Have toast and honey for breakfast as we have white bread to use but it gives me a tummy ache. I tell myself that there have to be limits to saving money as starting the day bloated doesn't go so well. I'm on the early morning shift with the puppy before I start work at nine and I struggle to run around the garden with him after the toast!<br> <br>12pm: Someone has purchased a pair of Doc Marten boots I had listed on eBay and the money goes straight into my wedding saving fund. I pop to the post office and pay £4.50 postage. I don't deduct this from the savings and just have it come out of my weekly spending account instead. <br> <br>12.30pm: I look online at bridal crowns made of clay flowers and porcelain petals and fall in love with the designs. However, the £300+ price tag makes me physically gasp and I start to zoom in on pictures to see if I can work out how they're made. I end up falling down a YouTube rabbit hole and find some videos of similar designs being made. After much debating, I decide to give it a go myself and order a silver wire headband, ready-made clay flowers and some jewellery-making craft wire. £25 <br> <br>6.30pm: Make tuna and cannellini bean salad for dinner, using tins from the cupboard and salad from the fridge. In the summer this is a staple meal for us as it's cheap, filling and healthy. After dinner we go for a walk with the dog and avoid shops as we're still recovering after paying for the boiler.<br> <br>8pm: Catch up on some last-minute emails on the sofa for a few minutes while the dog naps. With work being so busy I am desperate to nip to the shops to buy some chocolate but I stay strong and eat an orange from the fruit bowl instead.<br> <br>10pm: We head to bed and watch <em>Derry Girls </em>until we fall asleep.<br><br><strong>Total: £29.50</strong>
Day Four

7am: Have toast and honey for breakfast as we have white bread to use but it gives me a tummy ache. I tell myself that there have to be limits to saving money as starting the day bloated doesn't go so well. I'm on the early morning shift with the puppy before I start work at nine and I struggle to run around the garden with him after the toast!

12pm: Someone has purchased a pair of Doc Marten boots I had listed on eBay and the money goes straight into my wedding saving fund. I pop to the post office and pay £4.50 postage. I don't deduct this from the savings and just have it come out of my weekly spending account instead.

12.30pm: I look online at bridal crowns made of clay flowers and porcelain petals and fall in love with the designs. However, the £300+ price tag makes me physically gasp and I start to zoom in on pictures to see if I can work out how they're made. I end up falling down a YouTube rabbit hole and find some videos of similar designs being made. After much debating, I decide to give it a go myself and order a silver wire headband, ready-made clay flowers and some jewellery-making craft wire. £25

6.30pm: Make tuna and cannellini bean salad for dinner, using tins from the cupboard and salad from the fridge. In the summer this is a staple meal for us as it's cheap, filling and healthy. After dinner we go for a walk with the dog and avoid shops as we're still recovering after paying for the boiler.

8pm: Catch up on some last-minute emails on the sofa for a few minutes while the dog naps. With work being so busy I am desperate to nip to the shops to buy some chocolate but I stay strong and eat an orange from the fruit bowl instead.

10pm: We head to bed and watch Derry Girls until we fall asleep.

Total: £29.50
<strong>Day Five</strong><br><br>8am: I wake up craving a coffee and end up walking the dog to the local coffee shop to get a flat white. I bump into a friend in the queue and she kindly buys my drink. <br> <br>12pm: My fiancé and I debate at length whether we should get a takeaway as it's Friday and in the past it has been our tradition to get a Chinese on a Friday evening. We both decide that we would actually rather have something pasta-based and decide to make spaghetti bolognese. We have ordered pasta takeaway in the past and find it to be really expensive for what it is. I go to Tesco and grab the ingredients. £4 <br><br>7pm: We eat our spaghetti bolognese and feel instantly exhausted. <br> <br>8.45pm: Our local coffee shop has extended its opening hours and has started serving pizzas and ice cream in the evenings. As it's a new venture for the outlet, I manage to convince myself that it's worth splashing out to support a local business and grab a vanilla ice cream cone, £3.50. My fiancé and I share it on the walk home.<br> <br>9pm: I receive an email notifying me that I've won a £25 Love2shop voucher in a survey prize draw. I start browsing online for ways to spend the voucher but decide to leave it until a rainy day when I can spend it on something fun for the two of us like going out for a meal or visiting a museum.<br> <br>11pm: I go to bed later than usual after getting caught up in a Pinterest searching session, looking at wedding shoes and trying to find anything under £200 that I like. I decide to reuse the shoes I kept from my sister's wedding – they can count for the 'something old' part of the old bridal saying.<br><br><strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£7.50</strong>
Day Five

8am: I wake up craving a coffee and end up walking the dog to the local coffee shop to get a flat white. I bump into a friend in the queue and she kindly buys my drink.

12pm: My fiancé and I debate at length whether we should get a takeaway as it's Friday and in the past it has been our tradition to get a Chinese on a Friday evening. We both decide that we would actually rather have something pasta-based and decide to make spaghetti bolognese. We have ordered pasta takeaway in the past and find it to be really expensive for what it is. I go to Tesco and grab the ingredients. £4

7pm: We eat our spaghetti bolognese and feel instantly exhausted.

8.45pm: Our local coffee shop has extended its opening hours and has started serving pizzas and ice cream in the evenings. As it's a new venture for the outlet, I manage to convince myself that it's worth splashing out to support a local business and grab a vanilla ice cream cone, £3.50. My fiancé and I share it on the walk home.

9pm: I receive an email notifying me that I've won a £25 Love2shop voucher in a survey prize draw. I start browsing online for ways to spend the voucher but decide to leave it until a rainy day when I can spend it on something fun for the two of us like going out for a meal or visiting a museum.

11pm: I go to bed later than usual after getting caught up in a Pinterest searching session, looking at wedding shoes and trying to find anything under £200 that I like. I decide to reuse the shoes I kept from my sister's wedding – they can count for the 'something old' part of the old bridal saying.

Total: £7.50
<strong>Day Six</strong><br><br>8am: We wake up slightly later as the puppy slept for longer (fortunately). We have a bit of a lazy morning and watch YouTube videos in the living room while the puppy has his breakfast and plays games.<br> <br>11am: I start researching online for discount codes and coupons for things to do around the city. I often do this on a Saturday morning to find last-minute deals and vouchers for meals out so that we can have fun on the weekend without feeling too guilty about it. I cash in £15 worth of Tesco vouchers for a £45 voucher at Pizza Express and save the email code for later this evening. I also find a deal on my Vodafone app for two cinema tickets for £7 and book seats for later this afternoon.<br> <br>12pm: Have bacon sandwiches for lunch. Afterwards we head into the garden and begin measuring for the new raised beds we want and research online to find local sellers. We also browse to see if anyone is selling any used garden planters or wooden planks that we could use to make raised beds. Sadly we can't find what we're looking for but we have more time before it gets really hot.<br> <br>3.30pm: Instead of taking the bus, we walk into the city towards the cinema. We stop by Sainsbury's on the way and pick up one bag of strawberry laces and one Cadbury Dairy Milk bar. £2 <br> <br>6.30pm: We both opt for pizzas at Pizza Express, with Diet Cokes on the side. I choose a goat's cheese and onion speciality, whilst my fiancé goes for the classic margherita. We have some money left on the voucher so decide to go for tiramisu too. <br><br>8pm: We walk home very slowly and very full!<br> <br>9.30pm: We go to bed early as we're still full from dinner and the weather has turned dark and miserable.<br><br><strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£9</strong>
Day Six

8am: We wake up slightly later as the puppy slept for longer (fortunately). We have a bit of a lazy morning and watch YouTube videos in the living room while the puppy has his breakfast and plays games.

11am: I start researching online for discount codes and coupons for things to do around the city. I often do this on a Saturday morning to find last-minute deals and vouchers for meals out so that we can have fun on the weekend without feeling too guilty about it. I cash in £15 worth of Tesco vouchers for a £45 voucher at Pizza Express and save the email code for later this evening. I also find a deal on my Vodafone app for two cinema tickets for £7 and book seats for later this afternoon.

12pm: Have bacon sandwiches for lunch. Afterwards we head into the garden and begin measuring for the new raised beds we want and research online to find local sellers. We also browse to see if anyone is selling any used garden planters or wooden planks that we could use to make raised beds. Sadly we can't find what we're looking for but we have more time before it gets really hot.

3.30pm: Instead of taking the bus, we walk into the city towards the cinema. We stop by Sainsbury's on the way and pick up one bag of strawberry laces and one Cadbury Dairy Milk bar. £2

6.30pm: We both opt for pizzas at Pizza Express, with Diet Cokes on the side. I choose a goat's cheese and onion speciality, whilst my fiancé goes for the classic margherita. We have some money left on the voucher so decide to go for tiramisu too.

8pm: We walk home very slowly and very full!

9.30pm: We go to bed early as we're still full from dinner and the weather has turned dark and miserable.

Total: £9
<strong>Day Seven</strong><br><br>8am: The puppy sleeps in a little longer again so we can enjoy a slight lie-in. <br><br>8.30am: I start the day with a black coffee while my fiancé scoffs toast and jam.<br> <br>11am: We combine the dog's morning walk with a shopping trip and head into the city in search of shampoo as we have run out. We head to the pound shop and grab our usual bottle. I also find some dupes for famous perfumes so add a couple of different bottles to my basket. We also get a bag of the dog's favourite treats, which are cheaper here than they are elsewhere. £4<br> <br>12pm: I'm starving and beg my fiancé for a Marks & Spencer bacon roll, which are my favourite. We grab two for £7 and eat them on the walk back home, with butter dripping down our fingers. I have major heartburn on the journey and do my best to hide the pain, given how much I protested for the roll. <br> <br>6pm: We have chorizo stew again for dinner, using up the rest of the chorizo and vegetables from earlier in the week. <br><br>7pm: I rummage in my handbag and find a few strawberry laces left over from last night and nibble those while sat on the sofa watching TV.<br> <br>8pm: I remember that I'm in the office again tomorrow so I head to the late-night corner shop near me and grab some chicken slices and brown bread to make sandwiches for my work lunch. £4<br><br>8.30pm: I make two sets of sandwiches so that I am covered for Tuesday, too. One piece of chicken is left and the dog steals it out of my hand and runs to his bed with it.<br> <br>10pm: With work tomorrow we head to bed.<br> <br><strong>Total: £15</strong>
Day Seven

8am: The puppy sleeps in a little longer again so we can enjoy a slight lie-in.

8.30am: I start the day with a black coffee while my fiancé scoffs toast and jam.

11am: We combine the dog's morning walk with a shopping trip and head into the city in search of shampoo as we have run out. We head to the pound shop and grab our usual bottle. I also find some dupes for famous perfumes so add a couple of different bottles to my basket. We also get a bag of the dog's favourite treats, which are cheaper here than they are elsewhere. £4

12pm: I'm starving and beg my fiancé for a Marks & Spencer bacon roll, which are my favourite. We grab two for £7 and eat them on the walk back home, with butter dripping down our fingers. I have major heartburn on the journey and do my best to hide the pain, given how much I protested for the roll.

6pm: We have chorizo stew again for dinner, using up the rest of the chorizo and vegetables from earlier in the week.

7pm: I rummage in my handbag and find a few strawberry laces left over from last night and nibble those while sat on the sofa watching TV.

8pm: I remember that I'm in the office again tomorrow so I head to the late-night corner shop near me and grab some chicken slices and brown bread to make sandwiches for my work lunch. £4

8.30pm: I make two sets of sandwiches so that I am covered for Tuesday, too. One piece of chicken is left and the dog steals it out of my hand and runs to his bed with it.

10pm: With work tomorrow we head to bed.

Total: £15
<strong>The Breakdown</strong><br><br>Food & Drink: £58.69<br>Entertainment: £7<br>Clothes & Beauty: £25<br>Home & Health: £469.99<br>Travel: £0<br>Other: £4.50<br><br><strong>Total: £565.18</strong><br> <br><strong>Conclusion</strong><br><br>"This week was an unusually high week for spending given the nightmare with the boiler. We could have waited to have it fixed later down the line but it was needed urgently and unfortunately we had to pay it upfront and in full. Certain activities like shopping around for good deals for days out are really common week by week for me, and it was great to get a good deal on dinner for the two of us. The experience of recording my spend was quite enlightening but it was definitely painful to reflect on the boiler costs. We did learn a lesson in that though, and I think signing up to the cover plan should help to prevent issues like this arising in the future. Moving forwards, I will aim to buy fewer treats and snacks on our evening walks – although this is something I say at the end of every week!"
The Breakdown

Food & Drink: £58.69
Entertainment: £7
Clothes & Beauty: £25
Home & Health: £469.99
Travel: £0
Other: £4.50

Total: £565.18

Conclusion

"This week was an unusually high week for spending given the nightmare with the boiler. We could have waited to have it fixed later down the line but it was needed urgently and unfortunately we had to pay it upfront and in full. Certain activities like shopping around for good deals for days out are really common week by week for me, and it was great to get a good deal on dinner for the two of us. The experience of recording my spend was quite enlightening but it was definitely painful to reflect on the boiler costs. We did learn a lesson in that though, and I think signing up to the cover plan should help to prevent issues like this arising in the future. Moving forwards, I will aim to buy fewer treats and snacks on our evening walks – although this is something I say at the end of every week!"

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