Money Diary: A Senior Mental Health Support Worker On 26.5k

·15-min read

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking a cross-section of 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 26-year-old senior mental health support worker for a mental health charity, living and working in Yorkshire. I work from home but do face-to-face visits and home visits so I am out of the house most days. The aim of my service is to work with parents and help them with their mental health to be able to sustain work or education in the future. I used to struggle with an eating disorder and my relationship with food isn’t the greatest still. I try to eat intuitively but that doesn’t always happen. I start a new job with the police in two weeks and I'm really excited to start a new career. This is something I have been dreaming about for a long time and I can't quite believe it’s coming true.

I bought a flat last year and live there alone, although I have been with my boyfriend for eight years now. We definitely want a future together and to get married one day but right now we are just taking our time and enjoying life. Although he doesn’t pay any of my bills, he does earn more and so tends to pay for things when we go out (I do try to split but I think he likes to pay for fun things and treat me when he can)."

Occupation: Senior mental health support worker
Industry: Charity
Age: 26
Location: Yorkshire
Salary: £26,446
Paycheque amount: £1,700 depending on mileage for the month
Number of housemates: None
Pronouns: She/her
 
Monthly Expenses
 
Housing costs: £415 mortgage.
Loan payments: £225 car (I don’t currently pay back my student loans as I don’t earn enough).
Savings? £1,500 (I just bought a flat so I'm trying to build this back up).
Pension? I pay 5% of my salary and my company contributes 4%.
Utilities: £32 Wi-Fi, £100 energy, £26 water, £55 car insurance, £13.56 car tax, £78 council tax. I also put away £120 for service charge and £16.70 for ground rent a month and pay these every six months.
All other monthly payments: £77 phone (don’t ask, I know it’s a con). Subscriptions: £10 Spotify.
 
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?

I went to university for my degree and I used student loans to pay for it. I think it's probably £10,000 more now than it was when I graduated (eurgh, interest).
 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? What was the attitude to money in your house?

I don’t really remember having any conversations about money growing up. My parents worked really hard to put me and my siblings through an independent school so we didn’t have a lot extra. Being in that kind of school made me hyperaware of our financial situation and I always felt less than because of that. My parents don’t have the best financial situation so I think the fear of ending up like that has made me quite strict on money and security in property and being financially safe for retirement.
 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?

I moved out at 19 for university and came home when I graduated and stayed with them until 25 when I bought my flat. 
 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?

I would say 25, when I moved into my own property. 
 
What was your first job and why did you get it?

I had a paper round, probably age 13, but my first proper job was as a lifeguard at 16. I used to be a competitive lifesaver so it was an easy progression and the pay was great for my age. I got jobs quite early on to have money to spend on doing things with friends, buying clothes etc.
 
Do you worry about money now?

Yes, all the time. After buying my flat my savings took a hit and I definitely don’t feel I have enough saved to cover myself if anything were to happen unexpectedly. 
 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?

My parents very kindly gave me £17,500 towards my flat deposit when they sold their house, which meant I could have a lower mortgage. I am so grateful for that and could never have got on the property ladder without them at this age.

<strong>Day One</strong><br> <br>7.30am: Alarm goes off. I did vow I would go for a walk before work but that’s quickly vetoed.<br> <br>8am: Finally get out of bed, get in the shower and wash my hair. Have a cup of tea while sat with a turbie towel on my head, scrolling through social media and doing my skincare.<br> <br>8.30am: Log on to work. Since the pandemic I have been working from home. With all the restrictions on office numbers post-lockdown, we kind of just never went back.<br> <br>12pm: Morning support sessions done. I do a basic makeup of Chanel concealer, Dior powder, Chanel bronzer, NARS highlight, Charlotte Tilbury eyebrow pencil and gel, and Maybelline mascara on my lunch break.<br> <br>2pm: I drive over to Costa to meet a team member who is finishing work today. We have a nice half-hour catching up and wishing each other the best of luck. I buy a mango and passionfruit cooler, which is so necessary in this heat. £3.75<br> <br>3pm: Drive over to my parents' to print some documents I need for work and say hi to my dad and dog, who I am totally obsessed with. He's a rescue Labrador and is the neediest thing ever.<br> <br>6pm: Drive to my boyfriend E’s house as we are meeting his family and family friends up from London for drinks and dinner. We toast to E’s recent qualifications and my new job and enjoy pizzas at a new restaurant. His parents pay, which is so sweet.<br> <br>11pm: Sit on the sofa at E’s playing <em>Fallout </em>on the Xbox and wait for his mum to pick up his sister (she came back with us as she felt sick and didn’t want to drive just yet).<br> <br>12.30am: Bedtime finally.<br> <br><strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£3.75</strong>
Day One

7.30am: Alarm goes off. I did vow I would go for a walk before work but that’s quickly vetoed.

8am: Finally get out of bed, get in the shower and wash my hair. Have a cup of tea while sat with a turbie towel on my head, scrolling through social media and doing my skincare.

8.30am: Log on to work. Since the pandemic I have been working from home. With all the restrictions on office numbers post-lockdown, we kind of just never went back.

12pm: Morning support sessions done. I do a basic makeup of Chanel concealer, Dior powder, Chanel bronzer, NARS highlight, Charlotte Tilbury eyebrow pencil and gel, and Maybelline mascara on my lunch break.

2pm: I drive over to Costa to meet a team member who is finishing work today. We have a nice half-hour catching up and wishing each other the best of luck. I buy a mango and passionfruit cooler, which is so necessary in this heat. £3.75

3pm: Drive over to my parents' to print some documents I need for work and say hi to my dad and dog, who I am totally obsessed with. He's a rescue Labrador and is the neediest thing ever.

6pm: Drive to my boyfriend E’s house as we are meeting his family and family friends up from London for drinks and dinner. We toast to E’s recent qualifications and my new job and enjoy pizzas at a new restaurant. His parents pay, which is so sweet.

11pm: Sit on the sofa at E’s playing Fallout on the Xbox and wait for his mum to pick up his sister (she came back with us as she felt sick and didn’t want to drive just yet).

12.30am: Bedtime finally.

Total: £3.75
<strong>Day Two</strong><br> <br>2.15am: E’s snoring gets too much and there’s only so many times you can kick a person to tell them to stop snoring before an argument ensues… I move to the living room and sleep on the sofa.<br> <br>9.30am: Wake up back in E’s bed and we chill, scroll social media and catch up on our weeks. I then do my skincare routine and chat with E’s housemates.<br> <br>11am: E and I drive to a sandwich shop to get him and his housemate a sausage and egg butty. While I'm there I grab £10 out of the ATM and some snacks from Sainsbury's. £17.20<br> <br>12pm: Get ready for my cousin's wedding that E and I are going to today. I actually can't believe the weather and although it will be nice to see family, I am kinda dreading being so hot and sweaty.<br> <br>2.30pm: We arrive at the ceremony, which is lovely albeit filled with screaming children, which isn't a vibe in this temperature.<br> <br>6pm: The evening do is in full swing and we give the bride and groom a card with some money in to say congratulations. £40 (including the £10 from the ATM earlier).<br> <br>10.30pm: After a shot of rum, photo booth pictures and checking on a cousin who had one too many, we decide to drive home. E didn’t drink and has a slight obsession with his car so is always up for driving. Bonus for me.<br> <br>11.30pm: After taking off my makeup and trying not to ruin my fake eyelashes, I get into bed and promptly pass out.<br> <br><strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£57.20</strong>
Day Two

2.15am: E’s snoring gets too much and there’s only so many times you can kick a person to tell them to stop snoring before an argument ensues… I move to the living room and sleep on the sofa.

9.30am: Wake up back in E’s bed and we chill, scroll social media and catch up on our weeks. I then do my skincare routine and chat with E’s housemates.

11am: E and I drive to a sandwich shop to get him and his housemate a sausage and egg butty. While I'm there I grab £10 out of the ATM and some snacks from Sainsbury's. £17.20

12pm: Get ready for my cousin's wedding that E and I are going to today. I actually can't believe the weather and although it will be nice to see family, I am kinda dreading being so hot and sweaty.

2.30pm: We arrive at the ceremony, which is lovely albeit filled with screaming children, which isn't a vibe in this temperature.

6pm: The evening do is in full swing and we give the bride and groom a card with some money in to say congratulations. £40 (including the £10 from the ATM earlier).

10.30pm: After a shot of rum, photo booth pictures and checking on a cousin who had one too many, we decide to drive home. E didn’t drink and has a slight obsession with his car so is always up for driving. Bonus for me.

11.30pm: After taking off my makeup and trying not to ruin my fake eyelashes, I get into bed and promptly pass out.

Total: £57.20
<strong>Day Three</strong><br> <br>5am: My brother messages me asking about which tie he should buy, which wakes me up. He’s currently in Lombok and clearly doesn’t care about the time difference.<br> <br>7.30am: Wake up again and continue to doze for a good hour. Usually I'm a really early riser and never get back to sleep but I think the wedding and the heat really took it out of me. I’m not complaining.<br> <br>10am: E is playing golf with his housemates so I drive home, unpack my 10,000+ bags and snuggle down on the sofa watching old <em>RuPaul’s Drag Race</em> episodes (elite).<br> <br>12pm: Make an omelette with tomatoes, cheese and spinach and eat while watching <em>Love After Lockup</em>. Clearly I’m in a c**p TV kinda mood.<br> <br>2pm: I was supposed to be driving back to go for a Sunday roast with E and his friends but I’m starting to feel sick so I text him to rain check and have a nap instead.<br> <br>9pm: Eat some Maltesers and read in bed. I live opposite a library and try to take out six books a month to read as it really helps me chill out and relax.<br> <br>10.30pm: Sleep.<br> <br><strong>Total: £0</strong>
Day Three

5am: My brother messages me asking about which tie he should buy, which wakes me up. He’s currently in Lombok and clearly doesn’t care about the time difference.

7.30am: Wake up again and continue to doze for a good hour. Usually I'm a really early riser and never get back to sleep but I think the wedding and the heat really took it out of me. I’m not complaining.

10am: E is playing golf with his housemates so I drive home, unpack my 10,000+ bags and snuggle down on the sofa watching old RuPaul’s Drag Race episodes (elite).

12pm: Make an omelette with tomatoes, cheese and spinach and eat while watching Love After Lockup. Clearly I’m in a c**p TV kinda mood.

2pm: I was supposed to be driving back to go for a Sunday roast with E and his friends but I’m starting to feel sick so I text him to rain check and have a nap instead.

9pm: Eat some Maltesers and read in bed. I live opposite a library and try to take out six books a month to read as it really helps me chill out and relax.

10.30pm: Sleep.

Total: £0
<strong>Day Four</strong><br> <br>6am: I’m up before my alarm after a pretty rubbish night's sleep. It's payday so I move some money around and pull the trigger on two bedside tables in my Amazon basket, £59.36. I then listen to an audiobook in bed before my real alarm goes off at 7am.<br> <br>7am: Jump in the shower and wash my hair. I do my skin routine and then blow-dry my hair with my Dyson Airwrap.<br> <br>7.45am: Log on to work to check emails as I am offline most of today and have the afternoon off so I won't get much time to look at them. I do my makeup while responding to emails and doing bits of admin.<br> <br>8.45am: Drive to head office to meet my boss as we have some interviews today for someone to replace my role (*cry*). I make a cup of tea while there from the office supplies.<br> <br>11am: Interviews over and I think we have found an ideal replacement, which makes me feel a lot better about starting to get excited about my new job as I know the service will be left in good hands.<br> <br>12.30pm: After a support session over the phone I finish for the day. The company operates flexi hours, which is probably one of the best perks as it means I can build up hours to take a day or half-day at a time rather than using annual leave.<br> <br>1.15pm: I meet E in town on his break and we go for food. I get chicken gyoza to start and then a bang bang chicken salad, E gets halloumi to start and then a chicken wrap. I may or may not have a gin and tonic also. We split the bill and E goes back to work, £24.<br> <br>2.30pm: I head over to Zara to pick up some new work clothes. Having not worked in an office for the last two years I literally have nothing for my new job. I buy four blouses and two pairs of trousers, £201.02.<br> <br>3pm: I head to M&S and grab another shirt and two pairs of trousers. M&S is actually so good for workwear! £85<br> <br>3.15pm: Head back over to Zara to return one of the shirts as the one from M&S was nicer so I will get £22.99 back on my card.<br> <br>4pm: Go to Calvin Klein on the way to the car park and pick up two bras and a thong. I haven't refreshed my bras in a while so this was needed, £90.<br> <br>4.20pm: I then head to John Lewis and pick up the Pillow Talk highlighter from Charlotte Tilbury and also a knife set, cutlery set and a Chilly's bottle, £87.<br> <br>4.30pm: I pay my parking, £9 (ouch), and drive home.<br> <br>6pm: I put everything away and put on a wash.<br> <br>9.30pm: Fall asleep listening to an audiobook. Not that I’m a grandma or anything…<br><strong> <br>Total:</strong> <strong>£555.38</strong>
Day Four

6am: I’m up before my alarm after a pretty rubbish night's sleep. It's payday so I move some money around and pull the trigger on two bedside tables in my Amazon basket, £59.36. I then listen to an audiobook in bed before my real alarm goes off at 7am.

7am: Jump in the shower and wash my hair. I do my skin routine and then blow-dry my hair with my Dyson Airwrap.

7.45am: Log on to work to check emails as I am offline most of today and have the afternoon off so I won't get much time to look at them. I do my makeup while responding to emails and doing bits of admin.

8.45am: Drive to head office to meet my boss as we have some interviews today for someone to replace my role (*cry*). I make a cup of tea while there from the office supplies.

11am: Interviews over and I think we have found an ideal replacement, which makes me feel a lot better about starting to get excited about my new job as I know the service will be left in good hands.

12.30pm: After a support session over the phone I finish for the day. The company operates flexi hours, which is probably one of the best perks as it means I can build up hours to take a day or half-day at a time rather than using annual leave.

1.15pm: I meet E in town on his break and we go for food. I get chicken gyoza to start and then a bang bang chicken salad, E gets halloumi to start and then a chicken wrap. I may or may not have a gin and tonic also. We split the bill and E goes back to work, £24.

2.30pm: I head over to Zara to pick up some new work clothes. Having not worked in an office for the last two years I literally have nothing for my new job. I buy four blouses and two pairs of trousers, £201.02.

3pm: I head to M&S and grab another shirt and two pairs of trousers. M&S is actually so good for workwear! £85

3.15pm: Head back over to Zara to return one of the shirts as the one from M&S was nicer so I will get £22.99 back on my card.

4pm: Go to Calvin Klein on the way to the car park and pick up two bras and a thong. I haven't refreshed my bras in a while so this was needed, £90.

4.20pm: I then head to John Lewis and pick up the Pillow Talk highlighter from Charlotte Tilbury and also a knife set, cutlery set and a Chilly's bottle, £87.

4.30pm: I pay my parking, £9 (ouch), and drive home.

6pm: I put everything away and put on a wash.

9.30pm: Fall asleep listening to an audiobook. Not that I’m a grandma or anything…

Total:
£555.38
<strong>Day Five</strong><br> <br>6.30am: After a really rubbish sleep and a particularly bad nightmare where I dreamt a man broke into my flat and attacked me with a knife, I’m up.<br> <br>7.05am: After brushing my teeth I head out to the petrol station and fill up, £30.<br> <br>7.15am: I go to Sainsbury's to pick up some bits I need. I get milk, feta, tomatoes, onions, chicken breast, chocolate, ice cream, shampoo, dishwasher tablets, white washing powder, a toothbrush and tampons, £36.60.<br> <br>7.45am: Get home, unpack the shopping and do my skincare routine. I used to have a nighttime one also but lazy me can't get back into the swing of it so for now it's just AM.<br> <br>8am: Log on to work and call the successful candidate from yesterday to arrange a handover this week.<br> <br>2pm: After some support sessions I get home to make a stir fry for lunch. I forgot to buy normal cheese and I'm planning on making fajitas later in the week so I nip to Asda to get some (plus some cookies), £5.75.<br> <br>5pm: Finish work and have a shower to cool down. I respond to some friends and catch up on social media for the day. <br> <br>7pm: I eat two of the cookies I bought earlier while doing some life admin. Feel a bit sick now but no regrets.<br> <br>9pm: Catch up with my mum over the phone. She’s raging as she lost her credit card and hasn’t been sent a replacement yet but it's nice to catch up. I saw my parents at my cousin's wedding but I usually go over every week so feel like I haven't seen them properly in forever.<br> <br>11pm: Fall asleep while watching <em>Celebrity Masterchef</em> in bed. Is it the weekend yet?<br> <br><strong>Total: £72.35</strong>
Day Five

6.30am: After a really rubbish sleep and a particularly bad nightmare where I dreamt a man broke into my flat and attacked me with a knife, I’m up.

7.05am: After brushing my teeth I head out to the petrol station and fill up, £30.

7.15am: I go to Sainsbury's to pick up some bits I need. I get milk, feta, tomatoes, onions, chicken breast, chocolate, ice cream, shampoo, dishwasher tablets, white washing powder, a toothbrush and tampons, £36.60.

7.45am: Get home, unpack the shopping and do my skincare routine. I used to have a nighttime one also but lazy me can't get back into the swing of it so for now it's just AM.

8am: Log on to work and call the successful candidate from yesterday to arrange a handover this week.

2pm: After some support sessions I get home to make a stir fry for lunch. I forgot to buy normal cheese and I'm planning on making fajitas later in the week so I nip to Asda to get some (plus some cookies), £5.75.

5pm: Finish work and have a shower to cool down. I respond to some friends and catch up on social media for the day.

7pm: I eat two of the cookies I bought earlier while doing some life admin. Feel a bit sick now but no regrets.

9pm: Catch up with my mum over the phone. She’s raging as she lost her credit card and hasn’t been sent a replacement yet but it's nice to catch up. I saw my parents at my cousin's wedding but I usually go over every week so feel like I haven't seen them properly in forever.

11pm: Fall asleep while watching Celebrity Masterchef in bed. Is it the weekend yet?

Total: £72.35
<strong>Day Six</strong><br> <br>6.45am: Wake up and listen to an audiobook in bed.<br> <br>7.30am: Change my bedsheets and put a wash load on before hopping in the shower, doing my skincare routine and brushing my teeth.<br> <br>8.20am: Out the door to drive to one of the company offices for a meeting.<br> <br>11.30am: Meeting over. One of my support sessions later has not confirmed their attendance so I drive home to continue my working day.<br> <br>2.40pm: Eat a mini double chocolate Magnum and have a dance break/vacuuming session to Harry Styles to get away from my laptop for a bit. I am terrible at taking 30 minutes for lunch so sometimes the above is necessary.<br> <br>4pm: Finish work early and order some boots online that I have to have for my new job, £41.98. Hopefully I won't have to wear them that much and to be honest I have no idea why I need them but I also don’t want to be yelled at on my first day for not having them so hey ho.<br> <br>5.45pm: E was supposed to come to mine this evening but he's working from home tomorrow so I decide to drive and stay there instead. I get to meet his housemate's new girlfriend, which is nice, and we watch <em>Thirteen Lives</em> (so good!).<br> <br>7.30pm: We order a takeaway and E drives to collect it. Turns out when he gets there that it was sent to the wrong takeaway branch so he has to wait while they cook it. I get chicken pakoras and he has tikka masala. E pays.<br> <br>11.30pm: Bedtime.<br> <br><strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£41.98</strong>
Day Six

6.45am: Wake up and listen to an audiobook in bed.

7.30am: Change my bedsheets and put a wash load on before hopping in the shower, doing my skincare routine and brushing my teeth.

8.20am: Out the door to drive to one of the company offices for a meeting.

11.30am: Meeting over. One of my support sessions later has not confirmed their attendance so I drive home to continue my working day.

2.40pm: Eat a mini double chocolate Magnum and have a dance break/vacuuming session to Harry Styles to get away from my laptop for a bit. I am terrible at taking 30 minutes for lunch so sometimes the above is necessary.

4pm: Finish work early and order some boots online that I have to have for my new job, £41.98. Hopefully I won't have to wear them that much and to be honest I have no idea why I need them but I also don’t want to be yelled at on my first day for not having them so hey ho.

5.45pm: E was supposed to come to mine this evening but he's working from home tomorrow so I decide to drive and stay there instead. I get to meet his housemate's new girlfriend, which is nice, and we watch Thirteen Lives (so good!).

7.30pm: We order a takeaway and E drives to collect it. Turns out when he gets there that it was sent to the wrong takeaway branch so he has to wait while they cook it. I get chicken pakoras and he has tikka masala. E pays.

11.30pm: Bedtime.

Total: £41.98
<strong>Day Seven</strong><br> <br>7.30am: I sleep in later as E lives closer to my first meeting of the day. I catch up on social media and the news while in bed.<br> <br>8.20am: Get dressed, do skincare routine and slap on minimal makeup.<br> <br>9am: Drive to my first meeting. I’m super tired and not really in the right headspace but the meeting is fine and goes smoothly.<br> <br>3.30pm: Get home from sessions all day and immediately flop on the sofa. Grab a cereal bar from the cupboard and get through some emails that have piled up from earlier.<br> <br>5pm: Finish work and walk to the corner shop to get some sweets. I am so bad at giving into cravings immediately but days when I’m not feeling too hot mentally, I try to be kinder to myself. £2<br> <br>5.30pm: Cook the fajitas and have them with cheese. I portion up the rest and pop them in the freezer. I have <em>Friends </em>on in the background as an easy watch.<br> <br>6.20pm: Already in bed. I'm super tired and just scrolling social media and watching videos.<br> <br>8.15pm: I'm reading my library book but I can barely keep my eyes open so I give in and have an early night.<br> <br><strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£2</strong>
Day Seven

7.30am: I sleep in later as E lives closer to my first meeting of the day. I catch up on social media and the news while in bed.

8.20am: Get dressed, do skincare routine and slap on minimal makeup.

9am: Drive to my first meeting. I’m super tired and not really in the right headspace but the meeting is fine and goes smoothly.

3.30pm: Get home from sessions all day and immediately flop on the sofa. Grab a cereal bar from the cupboard and get through some emails that have piled up from earlier.

5pm: Finish work and walk to the corner shop to get some sweets. I am so bad at giving into cravings immediately but days when I’m not feeling too hot mentally, I try to be kinder to myself. £2

5.30pm: Cook the fajitas and have them with cheese. I portion up the rest and pop them in the freezer. I have Friends on in the background as an easy watch.

6.20pm: Already in bed. I'm super tired and just scrolling social media and watching videos.

8.15pm: I'm reading my library book but I can barely keep my eyes open so I give in and have an early night.

Total: £2
<strong>The Breakdown</strong><br> <br>Food & Drink: £89.30<br>Entertainment: £0<br>Clothes & Beauty: £505<br>Home & Health: £59.36<br>Travel: £39<br>Other: £40<br><br><strong>Total: £732.66</strong><br> <br><strong>Conclusion</strong><br> <br>"I spent a lot more this week on clothes, beauty and going out than I normally would, due to my new job and just having a busy week! I don’t usually spend that much and often have no spend days. It was quite cathartic to track everything and read it back and reflect on memories made with my loved ones. It has also made me think more about my relationship with food and how I probably should get some help with this sooner rather than later."
The Breakdown

Food & Drink: £89.30
Entertainment: £0
Clothes & Beauty: £505
Home & Health: £59.36
Travel: £39
Other: £40

Total: £732.66

Conclusion

"I spent a lot more this week on clothes, beauty and going out than I normally would, due to my new job and just having a busy week! I don’t usually spend that much and often have no spend days. It was quite cathartic to track everything and read it back and reflect on memories made with my loved ones. It has also made me think more about my relationship with food and how I probably should get some help with this sooner rather than later."

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

Money Diary: A Cancer Support Practitioner On 32k

Money Diary: A Content Strategy Manager On 85k

Money Diary: A Marketing Executive On 27k