Money Diary: A Paediatrician In London On 52k

Anonymous

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 am a paediatrician training in London, currently in my fifth year of being a doctor. I make good money but only because I work so much; if I worked 'normal' hours, the salary I think is not worth the responsibility we take on as doctors, especially with the NHS in the state it is in currently.  

I was fortunate enough to buy a flat earlier this year after lots of saving and a lump sum from my grandparents after they passed away. I am very lucky to be in such a position and try to get as many people to stay as possible so they don’t have to spend on hotels/rent when they are in town. My boyfriend V moved in when I did and so far it’s going well!

I’ve always been quite careful and sensible with money, and am trying to save a decent chunk of my salary each month to put towards some work on the flat and some long trips I am hoping to take over the next couple of years. 

V and I have a joint account that we use for food, travel, house items and anything else we will both use. As the flat is in my name I pay the mortgage and bills and V gives me £500 a month which goes into savings with the aim to move out of London in a few years together – somewhere with room for dogs!"

Industry: NHS
Age: 27
Location: London
Salary: £37,000 basic salary (if I worked 40 hours a week between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday) + £15,000 overtime (because we work a 48 hour week contract + nights and weekends) = £52,000 total.
Paycheque amount: £2,888
Number of housemates: One (my boyfriend V).

Monthly Expenses

Housing costs: Mortgage £895
Loan payments: Student loan comes out of my paycheque, it's about £150/month. 
Utilities: Gas/elec £57, water £26.22, Netflix £7.99, council tax £64
Transportation: Contactless TfL ~£160
Phone bill: £29.99
Savings? £200 into account for lease extension on my flat, £500 from V for rent/house expenses that goes into a separate savings account + whatever I have left at end of month, usually £300-£1,000. 
Other: RCPCH (Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health) fees £26.67/month, GMC (General Medical Council) fees £153/year (increases with seniority), Apple storage £0.79/month.

Day One

6.30am: Alarm goes off. Far too early for a Saturday but I’m on a long shift on neonatal intensive care starting at 8am. I make coffee and breakfast (fruit, muesli, Greek yoghurt) to have on the way in. Run for the bus and try to wake up on the journey. The bonus of early mornings are the sunrises! Get to work in time to make a cup of tea before handover so the day starts caffeinated and calm. 

1pm: Manage to break for lunch (salad, pitta bread, hummus) and catch up with my work wife who’s also in today and makes working the weekend infinitely better.
 
5pm: Tea and a handful of crisps as I write up notes and review a head ultrasound I did earlier. There’s something so magical about peering into a baby's brain, there’s a certain view where you can see the arteries flickering and it’s like watching them think, I never get bored of it.  

8pm: Handover and finish writing up notes for a couple of Caesarean section deliveries I attended because there were concerns about the babies; both came out screaming, which is always a relief. 

9pm: Listen to The Moth on Tube home. A hen party reveller has been sick on the platform, a reminder I’m having a very different Saturday night from a lot of other Londoners in their 20s. 

9.30pm: V has made bread! Carbs are 100% what I need, have cheese sandwich for dinner and watch an episode of Killing Eve in bed (I know, way behind the curve), the fashion is incredible and I am loving it. 

Total: £0
Day Two

6.30am: Alarm. Coffee. Breakfast. This is my fifth 13-hour shift this week so I am officially tired. The Tube is very empty on a Sunday except for NHS workers and labourers and there is an unspoken camaraderie; we all know we wouldn’t be on the Tube at 7am on a Sunday if we weren't going to work. TfL charge appears overnight from commute (£8.20).

9am: A baby that was very unwell yesterday died early in the morning so the mood on the unit is very sombre. Nobody ever expects to have a sick baby so the reality when it happens is always very difficult. The team did everything they could but sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, the outcome will be the same. The hardest bit I find is having to carry on like nothing has happened; there is no pause for the staff after a child dies because there are so many others to look after, and we can’t take our eye off the ball because there is always someone else who needs your attention. 

2pm: Lunch with the team. Weekends especially we try and eat together, in part to commiserate being at work, but when it’s been a tough one the team bonding over tea (and often cake) is particularly important. 

6pm: Way too many crisps in between putting IV lines in various babies – something about long shifts causes an eternal hunger and an insatiable craving for sugar and carbs. Being a doctor is really bad for your health. I try to eat healthily, but weekend long days are always my downfall. 

9.30pm: Get home, have more of V’s bread as toast and go straight to bed. Watch another episode of Killing Eve before falling asleep.

Total: £8.20
Day Three

11am: I don’t set an alarm after I finish a run of long days, and let my body decide how much sleep it needs to catch up. Turns out a lot! Wake up feeling newly human. I shower and have slice of BF's rosemary bread with butter for breakfast. 

12pm: Head to the cute indie coffee shop near me for some life admin with a flat white (£2.70). 

12.50pm: I’m trying not to buy clothes I can make and anything I do buy to be secondhand in a bid to help the environment, and in that vein I am planning on making my first coat. I found a great pattern for a cocoon coat with really interesting style lines, and I also buy a pattern for some amazing dungarees with flared legs and a blouse (£52.50). Now I just have to find the perfect wool to make the coat; I’m thinking bouclé with lots of colours or dark green with a very colourful lining. My grandma was a seamstress and taught me the basics as a child. I came back to it in medical school because I was in desperate need of a creative outlet and have done it on and off since. The last few months of work and life have been tough so have started sewing again and it is very good for my mental health. 

7pm: V gets home and we eat stir fry he made on Sunday. Buy train tickets because we are going away this weekend for our anniversary (£17.20 for my half) and some more film for my Instax camera (£35) and a soap dish (£3) online. Then settle in to finish the first series of Killing Eve. 

Total: £110.40
Day Four

10am: Have a meeting with somebody older and smarter than me about aforementioned tough few months of work. It’s very productive and we discuss some coping strategies for dealing with work when it’s a horror show (which it often is in an understaffed, overstretched system). TfL charge £8.20.

11.30am: Head to meet a friend for lunch. We worked together last year and are now at different hospitals so it is good to catch up. She kindly spots me for my coffee and we generally put the world to rights, and plot our various plans to escape the NHS: Australia for her, coffee shop by the sea for me. 

1pm: I buy V an anniversary card (£2.50) and get two metres of navy satin to make a bias cut slip dress à la Realisation Par but cheaper (£4). From there, I head to my favourite coffee shop and have a slice of ginger cake (£3) and catch up on my emails. I go on the hunt for the perfect wool for my coat project but alas it does not appear. 

4pm: Swing by supermarket on way home to get things for anniversary dinner: cod, chorizo, parsley, tomatoes (£7.81). Also pop into Boots to get more razors (£3.84).

7.30pm: V gets home just as I finish making dinner, it’s his favourite dish and we have a good catch-up over food and wine. Weekend working can often make it feel like we don’t see or talk to each other for a long time so we are both looking forward to the weekend of being away together.

Total: £29.35
Day Five

7am: Back to work. Utter the phrase 'postnatal ward' to any paediatrics trainee and watch their face drop. Our postnatal ward has 40 beds; that’s 40 sets of parents who all want to go home and the limiting factor is often the paediatrician, of which there is one (i.e. me). Start the day with 17 babies to review. 

12pm: By 12 o'clock it’s 21 babies to review. Inhale lunch in five minutes at 2pm. A mother is so rude to me in the afternoon that she makes me cry for half an hour. A midwife is (understandably) annoyed a baby didn’t get seen until 5pm because I was busy and has a problem that means they can’t go home. I explain the situation and she comes round but we all agree it’s not ideal. I’d love to see everyone by lunchtime so we can get people home but I only have two hands and one brain. 

7pm: Finally leave an hour and a half late, seriously reconsidering why on earth I became a doctor and what I want to do instead.

8pm: Get home at 8pm. On the way I pick up things for breakfast – granola, yogurt, grapes – and crisps (£8) to have with a very large glass of wine when I get in. Talk to my work wife who laments with me and we hatch our 'what we’re going to do when we leave the NHS' plans; a recurring theme this week.

Total: £8
Day Six

7am: Alarm, coffee, breakfast, bus. 

8.30am: Arrive for handover to the news that two babies died overnight, both very very sick and not entirely unexpected. It’s awful for the families of course but the toll it takes on the teams present is huge, and they all have to be back for another night shift in less than 12 hours. Catch up with a couple of them on the way out; moral support is all you can give but having been on the other side, kind words in dark moments can be very powerful. 

1pm: More time on the postnatal ward. It is slightly less manic today thankfully and I have a fab midwifery team with me, which makes the day go very smoothly. Grab lunch from the food market near the hospital, I get shakshuka (£7) and it is delicious. Eat in the staffroom with colleagues before heading back to the ward.
 
6pm: Leave just about on time! Listen to The High Low on the way home, eat leftovers when I get in. V is out so take the opportunity to catch up with a few people and do a face mask.

10.30pm: Head to bed, one more day before the weekend!

Total: £7
Day Seven

7am: Alarm. Breakfast. Coffee. Bus. Delayed TfL charges £14.20.

8.30am: Holding delivery/crash bleep (the pager that goes off if a doctor is needed to go to delivery and the 'crash' goes out for an emergency) today which quickly gets busy, lots of Caesarean sections and some interesting antenatal conditions. All the babies do well and we don’t need to admit anybody, which is a success of a day! 

12.30pm: Give crash bleep to a colleague so I can run to shop for lunch. Grab chicken salad, oranges, and jammy dodgers for the team to get us through the afternoon (£9.61). Get back and thankfully bleep stayed quiet in my absence. 

3pm: Counsel a lady who’s having a preterm baby via section this evening and explain what we need to do and the risks. They’ve wanted a baby for a very long time and I really hope the baby does well after delivery. I’ll be back on nights next week so I should be able to catch up with mum and dad. 

4.30pm: I say goodbye to a family who I’ve looked after all week. Mum was very sick after the delivery but has made an amazing recovery and the baby is absolutely gorgeous. It feels really great to close the loop on their care and wish them good luck, and also to be reminded what modern medicine can achieve. There is no way this outcome of a well mother and baby being discharged would have happened a few decades ago. 

6pm: Leave at 6, only half an hour late! Get Tube across London to meet V and go on our weekend adventure. He is stuck at work so take myself for an Old Fashioned (£8) at a bar around the corner. Pick up snack for the train (£9). 

8.30pm: Get to countryside station, split a cab to the BnB (£5), it’s really cute and in the middle of nowhere, which is exactly what we wanted. Plan a big hike for tomorrow and chat over tea before going to bed about 11pm. 

Total: £45.81
The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £55.12
Entertainment: £35
Clothes/Beauty: £60.34
Travel: £52.80
Other: £5.50

Total: £208.76

Conclusion

"This was a fairly low spend week for me because of the amount I worked, and I had done a big food shop prior to starting the weekend of long shifts otherwise I would have had nothing to eat! This is pretty reflective of a busy week at work, it was interesting writing down how each day went and it made me realise how often myself and friends at work are struggling within the NHS at the moment – the pressures this week were nothing out of the ordinary. 

I definitely spend a lot more when I am not at work, and allow myself treats, but I am consciously saving for holidays at the moment (and a very expensive exam) so am glad I could keep it sensible. It is evident that buying work snacks is where a lot of my money goes without me really noticing." 

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