Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last penny.

This week: “I’m a 33-year-old living in the northwest. I moved here about six years ago when I met my now husband and we lived in the house he had bought before meeting me. We then rented out that property and moved into our current house two years ago and found out very soon after that we were expecting our first child (after some worries with TTC (trying to conceive)). We used a huge chunk of our savings on the house deposit and renovations and then to cover half of the bills while I was on mat leave. I returned to work a few weeks ago after a full year off for maternity so we’re trying to build up our savings and fix up the house while working full-time and raising a baby. We’ve decided to slowly increase the nursery hours for M to full-time (more for my sake than his, if I’m being honest).

I’ve always worked from home and I’m super grateful that my employer is very flexible with work. I am definitely a saver rather than a spender and always have been. My husband had huge responsibilities towards his siblings and family when he was younger, which included financial responsibility. As such, he has always been careful about spending. We both have the mindset of, We’ll save the money and then we’ll go on holiday, do the big household purchase etc. We also buy things on credit cards and pay them off as quickly as possible.”

Occupation: Senior programme manager
Industry: Pharmaceuticals 
Age: 33
Location: Northwest
Salary: £52,000 + discretionary 10% bonus annually and company car (I don’t have to pay for car maintenance, insurance etc.).
Paycheque amount: £3,156
Number of housemates: Two: my husband, A, and 1-year-old, M.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses

Housing costs: £550 for my share of the mortgage.
Loan payments: £210 student loans. £1,500 on a 0% credit card for 24 months.
Savings? £11,000 in an ISA, £4,000 in joint savings, £2,000 in various savings accounts.
Pension? £212 a month from my salary, which my employer adds to. I currently have around £36k in my pension pot.
Utilities: We share all the household bills, which go from our joint current account. My half works out as £133 council tax, £150 gas and electric, £18 water, £19 internet.
All other monthly payments: £8 SIM only, £20 for my mum and dad’s SIM only, £360 for my share of M’s childcare (we use the government’s tax-free childcare account). Subscriptions: £8.99 Amazon Prime, £12.08 Books and Pieces, £10 into M’s savings account, £25 charity contributions.

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

Yes, I went to university in London and lived at home. I got student loans and maintenance loans but I also got quite a few bursaries for being the first in my family to go into further education, for being from a deprived area etc.

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

We didn’t really worry about money but we weren’t rich by any means. I think we just got by. My brother and I were encouraged from very early on to save money and we had savings accounts from when we were little, where we put money we got for birthdays/holidays etc. My mother was definitely the more financially responsible one in the house. My father had a very sketchy relationship with money, which I think my brother and I became mindful of as we got older. This certainly contributed to our mindset around money and debt.

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

I moved out of my parents’ house in my mid-20s. I lived on the outskirts of London and house prices there are so crazy that I didn’t even contemplate buying. My brother and I contributed significantly to the running of the household as our parents spent the majority of their time abroad. We paid the mortgage, bills, groceries and maintenance of the house. We also provided financial assistance to our parents when/if required as they lived in their home country.  

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

Probably after uni and when I got my first full-time job. Even though my brother and I stayed at home, we shared the bills and paid our own expenses. 

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

My first job was working in a call centre when I was 16. I used to work evenings and weekends and I used the money to take driving lessons and pay for my first car.

Do you worry about money now?

Yes, definitely. We managed to build quite a nice amount of savings before I went on mat leave but statutory maternity pay is atrocious. We ended up having to delve into our joint savings to cover my half of the bills and mortgage. A works crazy hard in the NHS and was willing to do more overtime to build our savings up so I didn’t have to worry about going back to work sooner but I just felt so guilty. We agreed that family comes first and we didn’t want to miss out on our son growing up because we were worried about finances.

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Day One

6.30am: Alarm goes off and A and I get up. Breakfast for me (tea and a bowl of Cheerios) and A (tea and toast). We catch up on daily news and I wander into my office (the conservatory).

7am: M is stirring and I can see on the baby monitor he’s getting up. He’s having a good stretch and I go upstairs to get him.

7.30am: Bring M downstairs after brushing his teeth and changing his nappy. I pull out some of his toys and place him on the living room floor while I get his breakfast ready. He has Weetabix and half a banana. I then get him changed into cute dungarees, comb his hair and put on Ms Rachel on the iPad.

8.30am: It’s been two weeks since I’ve returned to work from mat leave and in that time we have gone from working with one major software development team to another. So I’m still getting my head around all the new processes etc. My team has also expanded in my absence. I went on leave when it was only me and my manager and now we have three new starters.

9am: I have a call with one of my team members. This is the first time we’ve had a one-on-one so it’s nice to get to know him a little better. He talks me through some of the applications and processes and asks me if I’m familiar with a particular document (which I wrote two years ago). After playing happily for a while, M starts getting a little antsy so I hang up and get him some fruit in a bowl. He only goes to nursery three days a week at the minute as he gets familiar with being away from his mummy for the first time in his life. 

10.20am: M starts getting very clingy, which means it’s time for his nap. I hold him in my lap, rocking him back and forth while reading some of the SOPs I’m not familiar with. He falls asleep as I breastfeed him. I take him upstairs and put him down in his cot, tidy up and put the laundry on.

12.15pm: Put some homemade veggie fingers in the air fryer for M and take out a homemade cheese and onion pasty and some chips for me. He’s babbling now and some words are very clear so it feels like we’re having a conversation over lunch.

12.35pm: M plays with some toys while I put the laundry out, pack his nursery bag, wash our plates and head out the door for nursery drop-off.

1pm: Drop M off at nursery and drive by Amazon Lockers to return some parcels.

3pm: I have a meeting that isn’t really relevant to my projects so I turn my camera off and mute while perusing Sephora. I’m in need of a good moisturiser as my skin has been really dry postpartum. I get the Embryolisse cream as well as a Kiehl’s face oil, a hydrating mist, The Inkey List hyaluronic acid (a TikTok recommendation) and a serum. I remember Sephora gives Blue Light discount (A works for the NHS and has the card) so quickly find the code. The total comes to £76.83 after discount. Ouch. Quickly press proceed without thinking about it too much.

5.30pm: Get our dinner ready (lasagne and a modified one for M). I then go to nursery and pick up M.

6.30pm: Put dinner in the oven and start a bath for M. A gets home and plays with M while I get our dinner ready. We then eat, tidy up and get M ready for bed. 

7.30pm: M has discovered the electrical sockets and tries putting his finger in. I order a pack of 20 socket covers on Amazon, £6.99.

10.30pm: Off to bed.

Total: £83.82

Day Two

6.30am: Alarm goes off and I go get M and bring him into our bed for some cuddles.

7am: Get breakfast ready: porridge with apple puree for M and Weetabix and tea for me. Get changed and ready for the day.

8.45am: Drop M off to nursery and take the car to get charged. I plug in and walk across the road to Starbucks to get a hazelnut oat latte and an almond croissant, £7. I proofread some specifications on my laptop.

10am: Get a notification that the car has reached the charging limit. I usually pay from the joint account but I left our joint spending card at home so I use Apple Pay, £27.65. We’ve ordered a charging point for the home so hopefully it won’t be this expensive going forward.

3pm: Have a late lunch of yesterday’s leftover lasagne while finishing off reports and drafting functional specs for a new application.

4pm: Have a phone call with my mum. She mentions a family member abroad (in a poorer country) needing major surgery. She wants me to send them money from her account (as she can’t do mobile banking) so I top up her contribution with another £100 and send it over.

5pm: Have a meeting with my manager about my objectives for the year. These affect the amount of bonus I’ll get so I spend significant time discussing time frames for delivery. We make a plan for me to go over to the office in Denmark for workshops. It’s been so long since I travelled for work (COVID, being pregnant, then going on maternity) that I’ve forgotten how to book it. I ask an administrator in the UK office to assist if she can and she tells me about some juicy office gossip involving two colleagues. The travel and accommodation is paid for on the company credit card. 

6pm: I go pick up M from nursery and pop by my sister-in-law’s house on the way home to drop off a present and card for her birthday. Once I get home, I make dinner of rice and lentil curry (modified version for M) and then get M ready for bed.

8pm: A gets home and has some cuddles with sleepy M as I take him to bed. A has his dinner as we watch Workin’ Moms on Netflix. I peruse Pinterest for inspiration on living room decor and look at some sideboards and rugs that I’m interested in.

10pm: Bed.

Total: £134.65

Day Three

5.15am: A is up as he has an early shift and he thinks he’s being stealthy. He is not. I decide to get up when the torch from his phone is accidentally shone on my face as he tries to put eye drops in.

5.30am: A takes breakfast with him while I have toast and tea. Decide to fire the laptop up and start on my to-do list so I can log off early today. 

8am: M is up, nappy changed, teeth brushed, fed and changed. Afterwards we head for drop-off at nursery.

11am: I’ve had four meetings in a row. As I’m making a cup of tea, I get a call from the nursery. M is refusing to nap without his Bobo (his comforter). I frantically look for it and thankfully it’s in his car seat. I go and drop it off at nursery. 

12.30pm: Have a quick pesto pasta.

2pm: I speak to the developers about a delay in a software release and try to understand why there was no mention of this before. I finish the call feeling very annoyed as it feels like not a lot has changed since I was away on mat leave.

6pm: A got home earlier and convinces me to have takeaway tonight. He heads out to pick up M from nursery while I carry on working for a bit.

6.30pm: M has a bath with some new bath toys he got for his birthday. I make him a quick dinner of couscous with mixed vegetables.

7pm: The food arrives. We got mixed grill, pizza and a burger meal (A pays). I put M to bed and we watch a few more episodes of Workin’ Moms.

8pm: I find some wall art that I think would look nice in the dining room and save it for payday.

10pm: Head upstairs to bed.

Total: £0

Day Four

7am: Make a mental list of all the things that I need to get done today and feel a little overwhelmed. I speak to A about it and he helps me through some of the feelings and suggests I see my therapist again. I stopped seeing her when I thought I was ‘cured’ and then on maternity I couldn’t justify the expense. I decide to message her to see if she can give me a slot.

8.30am: M is fed, changed and ready for the day. My sister-in-law comes over to watch M while I have a few meetings. She’s currently between jobs and loves her nephew very much and is great with him. Since going back to work/the NHS pay dispute, we’re trying to build up our savings so we can pay a lump sum off our mortgage when it’s up for renewal. This means that full-time nursery is too expensive for us right now so we’re very fortunate to have a family member nearby who is happy to help with our child. 

1pm: M awakes from his nap and has fish fingers while we have quinoa and halloumi salad. I drop my sister-in-law home and pop into Home Bargains for some cleaning products, baby wipes, toothpaste and mouthwash, £7.

3.30pm: M goes down for a nap and I decide to do a workout routine. I give the Nike Training Club 20-minute workouts on Netflix a try. It turns out great although my thighs are screaming.

4pm: Go back to work to finish off some reports as M plays happily with his toys. 

6.30pm: More of yesterday’s couscous for M, then ready for bed.

7.30pm: I make lamb rogan josh with naan for me and A. We eat together, then A mows the lawn while I tidy the house.

8pm: We watch some TV and then chill.

10pm: Bed.

Total: £7

Day Five

6.30am: M was up a few times during the night because he’s teething so I wake up to one tiny arm slapping me across the face.

7am: Get up, nappy changed, teeth brushed and breakfast of tea and toast for all (milk for M instead of tea, obviously). I’m using annual leave today so no work for me.

8am: A leaves for work and we get ready for a trip to Asda. As we’re heading out the door, M does a massive poo and the stench almost knocks me out. Oh. My. God. How could something so cute do something so atrocious?

9.30am: At Asda we get nappies, milk, bread, croissants, apples, pears, vegetables, puff pastry roll, halloumi, spinach, chicken breast, a bag of salad, cleaning products, jam doughnuts and a multipack of canned drinks. Everything comes to £35.18 for my share.

10am: Have a doughnut while putting the shopping away.

11am: M goes down for his nap and I decide to clean the fridge and oven. I prep an early lunch of cheesy mince pinwheels for the bub and a grilled cheese sandwich with caramelised onion chutney for me.

12.30pm: Head off to mosque for Friday prayers.

2pm: Head home via Greggs. I decide on two cheese and onion pasties and a pack of caramel shortbread for later, £7.70.

2.30pm: After a bottle of milk M falls asleep so I decide to do a 20-minute workout from Netflix. I then eat an ice cream while sitting in the garden enjoying the warm weather.

5.30pm: A gets home from work and we enjoy the pasties with tea. I then get M ready and we head off to my sister-in-law’s with the caramel shortbread.

9pm: Get home after having dinner there. M got to play with his cousins before falling asleep. I had the foresight to take his pyjamas with us so it’s a quick transfer into his cot for the night.

10pm: A does some admin stuff on his laptop while I watch TikTok.

10.15pm: Bed.

Total: £42.88

Day Six

6.30am: We can hear M ‘singing’ to himself over the baby monitor and it’s the most adorable thing in the world. I can’t believe my little man is already one. I somehow manage to fall back asleep after just ‘resting my eyes’.

7am: Wake up slightly panicked when I see M’s not on the monitor anymore. Realise A is out of bed so they must have gone downstairs. Find A and M making breakfast: pancakes with various fruit and salmon with avocado. 

9am: We arrive at a woodland area about 30 minutes from us. The parking meter isn’t working and the lovely man in the café says it’s free until they sort it. We strap M onto A in the baby carrier and have a nice leisurely walk. 

11.45am: Stop by the car to change M’s nappy and walk to the café. I get us two lattes, a muffin and a sandwich, £11.85. M is getting very sleepy so we head back to the car and head home.

1pm: Lunch of butter chicken and rice (a very mild version for M). We sit in the garden as A paints the fence but I quickly retreat inside with M as he keeps waddling over to the paint pot. Play with some of M’s toys.

3.30pm: A’s mum comes over and she plays with M while I help A with weeding. I spend more time googling how to do this than I do actually helping.

5pm: Since M didn’t have his afternoon nap he’s a bit cranky so I give him an early dinner of roasted vegetables and veggie fingers with spaghetti. 

7pm: M bathed, changed and in bed. We have dinner of sweet potato and chicken traybake. A drops his mum home while I do some ironing.

9pm: Watch TV, including a couple of episodes of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. I make a list of paint shade samples to pick up from B&Q next week.

11.45pm: Bed.

Total: £11.85

Day Seven

7.30am: A is working overtime today so is up early to leave for work.

8am: I have breakfast of pancakes and bananas (yesterday’s batter) with tea. M gets up and I get his nappy changed and teeth brushed. I then make him a big bowl of porridge with pear puree, which he finishes!

9.15am: We’re both changed and ready. I make a shepherd’s pie for lunch for later. A forgot his lunch so we drive to the hospital to drop it off. 

9.30am: Drive back home and park the car, then walk to the local park where M plays on the swings for a bit. He’s still scared to go on the slide so we’ll build up to that slowly.

10am: I meet a friend, N, and her daughter to go to soft play. I completely forgot to book the tickets so I pay for us, £8.

10.30am: Very quickly regret soft play. M gets overwhelmed by all the noise and chaos and spends most of the time clinging to me. N gets me a coffee and a lemon muffin and M ends up napping in my arms.

12.15pm: N and her daughter come to ours and the kids have fish fingers and chips while we have the shepherd’s pie. We spend the rest of the afternoon gossiping as the kids play together and watch cartoons.

4.30pm: N and her daughter leave and I give M a bath as A comes home from work.

6pm: A and I have dinner of yesterday’s butter chicken and rice.

7pm: M in bed and I have a nice hot bath.

8.15pm: A makes me a cup of tea as we watch a few episodes of Queen Charlotte.

10.15pm: Bed.

Total: £8

The Breakdown

Food & Drink: £61.73
Clothes & Beauty: £76.83
Home & Health: £13.99
Entertainment: £8
Travel: £27.65 
Other: £100

Total: £288.20


“It’s quite difficult to say whether this is a typical week for us as I’m just getting into the groove of returning to work full-time and being a mum. Normally I wouldn’t spend so much on skincare but I guess these products will last me a few months. In the coming months we expect our weekly expenditure to increase as we make plans for finally getting round to decorating our house and making it feel more homely.”

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