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 31-year-old NHS manager living in Bristol. I’ve lived here for the last four years after moving here from London after a bad breakup. I bought my first house with my partner at the end of 2022 in a chaotic and expensive housing market. I’ve worked for the NHS for almost ten years, but I’m starting to think about leaving for a project/programme management role with a better salary and benefits for my level of responsibility. I started out adulthood with a really bad attitude to money and spent most of university and my first year after graduation in my overdraft. Once my student overdraft ended, I took control of my finances and took out a graduate loan to pay off my overdraft. I probably managed to save for a house deposit a little bit faster due to COVID, despite paying steep rent at the time and not having any family help. We have now been in the house for a year and I am trying to build my savings back up to pay for renovations and have an emergency fund again. I use Monzo pots to manage my spending and generally stay within my budget, although I definitely treat myself more often than might still be considered a treat!”

Occupation: Senior quality improvement manager
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 31
Location: Bristol
Salary: £58,972
Paycheque Amount: £2,985.77
Number of housemates: Four (my partner M, dog D, and cats S and S)
Pronouns: she/her

Monthly Expenses

Housing costs: £920.84 for my half of our mortgage payment.
Loan payments: £224.68 to Wren for our kitchen (we took out finance for our new kitchen earlier this year and I pay for this while M pays for the finance on our new windows and radiators), £277 to my student loan. 
Savings: £1,000 in an emergency fund, £834 in a Monzo pot for holidays (about to be emptied!), £825 in a Monzo pot for driving lessons, and £1,327 in a shared savings account with M for house-related costs. 
Utilities: We split bills 50/50, I pay: £21 for water, £90 for gas/electric and £76 for council tax. 
Pension?: I pay 11.6% into my pension, which currently comes to £570. I believe this is matched by my employer.
All other monthly payments: £15.94 pet insurance, £23.37 life/mortgage insurance, £14.50 internet, £50 pet food, £2.49 Apple storage, £45.65 aerial hoop classes, £20.99 gym membership, £57.82 phone.
Subscriptions: I share subscriptions with my siblings and M, I pay for £8.99 Amazon and £5.99 Disney+. 

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it? I did an undergraduate and a master’s degree and paid for both with student loans. As my parents separated in my first year, I qualified for the maximum loan amount but that still never seemed to be enough to cover all my expenses. This is probably more due to my poor money management skills at the time rather than it not actually being enough, and I spent a lot of time in my overdraft.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I don’t really remember having specific conversations about money or any education. I remember being given an allowance and spending it all every month rather than saving any of it, and I don’t remember being advised not to do that. In retrospect I can see that money was a big issue in our household, and probably one of the main reasons my parents got divorced, but I don’t think any of this was communicated to us particularly well and I only became aware of how complicated it was later on. 

If you have, when did you move out of your parents/guardian’s house?
When I was 18, for university. 

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I would say when I left university at 21, as during those years my Dad was still paying for my phone and my Mum gave me £50 a month for food shopping. I do benefit from splitting all my expenses with my partner now, but we split everything 50/50 so I would say I am completely financially responsible for myself.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
Working in a restaurant when I was 15. I wanted to get a job to have extra spending money as soon as I was legally allowed, but I was absolutely terrible at the job! I worked various serving jobs in restaurants/cafes until I went to university.

Do you worry about money now?
All the time. A year ago we took on a larger mortgage than we had planned, and the house has required more work than we expected, so this combined with the cost of everything going up means that I still worry about money constantly. With the way costs continue to rise it feels as if no matter how much I make I will always need to worry about money.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
No. I believe my Mum is planning to give us some money towards an extension on the house, which would be instead of receiving an inheritance when she dies, but I’m not sure how much this will be yet. Other than this I do not expect to receive any inheritance. 

Day One

8:20 a.m. – Usually I’m super motivated on a Monday, but I took something to help me sleep last night (I have insomnia) and regret it now as it’s so hard to drag myself out of bed!

9 a.m. – I head straight out for a short walk with our dog, D, and then come back and make some porridge and a cup of tea for breakfast and settle down for work (I mostly work from home). A lot of my work is confidential, but broadly I work on improving the safety of maternity services. 

10 a.m. – The Dogs Trust call me while I’m in a meeting, as I put in a request online to book some obedience classes for D. We rescued her in September, and she had previously been a stray, so she doesn’t know any commands and has a few other issues, so I’m looking forward to starting to train her. Four weeks of sessions next month comes to £70.

11 a.m. – I am on my own this week as my partner M is travelling for work, so I don’t need as much food as usual. I head to the shop and get blueberries, bananas, spinach, coriander, mushrooms, pak choi, cherry tomatoes, garlic bread, a few spices we’ve run out of, brown rice, noodles, and sweetcorn. The total comes to £26.29, which is a bit less than we would usually spend if we were both here. 

11:30 a.m. – Back to work. I have recently been placed at risk of redundancy after finding out a few months ago that my role isn’t in our new team structure as part of the reorganisation. The situation is very complicated as I’m currently on a secondment to a higher paid role and won’t be eligible to apply to stay in this role for another month, but I still need to engage with all the stages of the reorg to ensure I am eligible for my redundancy payment if it comes to it. I spend the rest of the morning looking through the roles I can apply for at this stage. 

1 p.m. – Lunchtime! Today I make some packet noodles and fry some mushrooms and bok choi with soy sauce to go with it. I’m trying to get back into some healthy habits; the end of last year was really hard after our lovely young cat was killed by a car and I really stopped looking after myself, so I’m pleased that I’ve already managed to hit my five-a-day today! 

5 p.m. – Done with work. I prep my dinner early as I’m going to my aerial hoop class tonight and won’t eat until I get back.

5:55 p.m. – Walk to my aerial hoop class. I would recommend trying this to anyone – the studio is so supportive, and you don’t need to have any existing strength or flexibility to start out. I’ve been doing it for about two years, and I love looking back at how much progress I’ve made!

8 p.m. – Get home from hoop class and make some rice to go with the curry I made earlier, eat on the sofa in front of Line of Duty with all the pets trying to get a bite.

10:30 p.m. – Lights out. 

Total: £96.29

Day Two

8:10 a.m. – Struggle to get up again, surely sleeping tablets don’t last two days?! Go through my usual morning routine of skincare, a quick walk with the dog, and tea before logging on.

1 p.m. – Break for lunch after a morning of back-to-back meetings. Heat up leftover rice and curry from last night, followed by an apple and a chocolate bar. 

1:30 p.m. – Spend the afternoon working on notes for my project management course. With my job situation so uncertain at the moment I’m keen to get the course finished as soon as possible so that I can use it for any job hunting I need to do. This was funded by my employer. 

4 p.m. – Take the dog out for her longer afternoon walk around the lake, where she insists on stopping to sniff every three steps. Get home and wrap up work around 5 p.m., then settle down for a quiet evening in. 

5:30 p.m. – Feed the pets. We get both cat and dog food from online subscription services – it probably costs a bit more, but the food seems to be higher quality than you can get in the supermarket. 

6:30 p.m. – Dinner time for humans. I made a stir fry with broccoli leftover from last week and the mushrooms and bok choi I bought on Monday. I’m proud of myself for resisting the urge to order a takeaway, as I’m trying to cut back on spending this week before going away! 

8 p.m. – Spend the evening researching different workout apps. Get annoyed with them as none of them seem to have a programme option that is only twice a week, which I understand is probably because they don’t think you would see results but it doesn’t take into account that you might do other activities. I end up going with the EvolveYou app, and pay £15.99 for the first month, which I will cancel if I don’t get on with it. 

9:30 p.m. – Evening routine of skincare, teeth brushing and reading before lights out at 10:30 p.m.

Total: £15.99

Day Three

3 a.m. – Get woken up by the cats wrestling on top of me, and promptly kick them out of the bedroom. Dog, sleeping soundly like an angel, gets to stay.

8:20 a.m. – Up, skincare done and out with the dog for her morning walk. I get the majority of my skincare from Beauty Pie and would really recommend trying it to anyone who enjoys skincare or wants to get into it. You pay a subscription price annually and then all the products are discounted – it’s hard to know if it’s really a better deal without doing loads of research, but my skin likes the products, so it seems worth it to me!

9 a.m. – Have my tea and breakfast while I log on for the day, sitting downstairs because it’s a bit warmer there and its absolutely arctic out today.

10 a.m. – Remember I need to order a case for my new Kindle before we go away next week. Order one from Amazon to arrive tomorrow. Obviously I have to have a pretty one and not a cheaper boring one, £20.99. 

10:15 a.m. – Walk over to the gym and try my first workout of the programme. It’s a leg workout and it’s HARD especially after a few months of not going to the gym consistently, but I’m proud of myself for finishing it! I’m really lucky that my team are really flexible and that as long as all the work gets done, I can pop out to the gym during the day while it’s quieter.

11 a.m. – Stop at Tesco to pick up some milk on my way home, £1.20.

12:30 p.m. – Spend the rest of the morning working out which vacancies I’m going to apply for in this stage of the redeployment process. I’m not that excited by any of them, but I pick out a few that I’ll write applications for next week. Break for lunch and heat up some leftover stir fry to have followed by an apple.

3:45 p.m. – Set out with the dog for the walk to my sister’s house. She lives about a half hour walk away from me with my lovely nephews, so we go over and spend some time there most Wednesdays.

6 p.m. – Spend the afternoon playing and having dinner there – jacket potato with tuna and salad. While I’m there my Mum tells me that my nephew ‘accidentally’ bought a book on my Amazon account (he’s four so this seems unlikely), which costs me £5. 

7 p.m. – My brother-in-law kindly gives me and the dog a lift home as its dark and cold. I’m slightly limited while M is away and I’m looking after the dog on my own, but I probably wouldn’t want to go out much anyway, not when it’s this cold out. 

9:30 p.m. – Evening routine of shower, skincare, teeth, and book before bed. Takes a bit longer this evening as I need to wash my hair after the gym. Lights out at 10:30 p.m. as usual.

Total: £27.19

Day Four

8:10 a.m. – Up and seriously aching from the gym yesterday. I do my skincare and then head out with the dog for her morning walk. We manage to get her past a lovely fluffy cat – she still tries to chase them despite having two cat friends at home!

9 a.m. – Home, tea, porridge and log on for the day.  

10 a.m. – Off to the gym again. I don’t normally go two days in a row, but I have a busier than usual day tomorrow and I’m away at the weekend, so I’m fitting it in now. The carpark I have to walk across to get to the gym is an obstacle course of PAIN for anyone who did leg day yesterday – why so many steps up and down?! On the way home I stop at Pets at Home to pick up some more treats for the dog – she’s so fussy and I’m still trying to work out which ones she will eat consistently, £9.

11 a.m. – Get home and she likes the treats! Turns out she’s just a fancy gal and it has to be the Lily’s Kitchen ones, figures. Snack on an apple and a chocolate (maybe two). 

12:30 p.m. – Put some rice on to have with leftover curry from Monday for my lunch.

1 p.m. – Last week I ordered some thermals from Uniqlo for our trip next week, but the fleece I ordered wasn’t quite the colour I had in mind. I order a different colour of the fleece in a larger size and get the original ready to return once M has tried on his bits to make sure they fit, £29.  

4 p.m. – My Mum arrives as she’s staying over tonight, so we take the dog out for her afternoon walk.

6 p.m. – We make an orzo and tomato bake with some garlic bread for dinner, which we eat in front of Call the Midwife and Silent Witness.

10 p.m. – Get ready for bed, but the cats have gone feral, so it takes them ages to settle down and let us go to sleep.

Total: £38

Day Five

8:30 a.m. – Slightly later start today since it’s Friday. I have tea and breakfast with Mum before taking the dog out for her morning walk. It turns out the cats spent the night in the spare bed with her, the traitors. 

10 a.m. – Mum heads off home and I spend the rest of the morning in meetings.

12 p.m. – Take our younger cat to the vet to be weighed and assess if he’s ready to be ‘done’. The vet confirms he now weighs enough, and I book him in for two weeks’ time, we don’t need to pay until the day. 

12:30 p.m. – Drop the kitten off at home and then walk the 30 minutes to meet an old colleague for lunch. We both order Turkish eggs, and I get mine with a side of potatoes and a green juice, £20. 

3 p.m. – Stop off at Tesco on the way home from lunch to pick up some bits for M, as he’s coming home later today. I’m going to London overnight for a birthday tomorrow so I get him some bananas, an ‘immune boosting’ smoothie, yoghurt, filled pasta and pesto, £10. 

3:30 p.m. – Get home and take the dog out for a quick walk. When I get home, I see I have a £9 charge from Amazon that I wasn’t expecting, but it turns out I just accidentally changed my Amazon Prime subscription to my Monzo from my main bank account. I quickly switch it back for next month. I spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening working to make up for going out for lunch. 

7:30 p.m. – M is home, yay! The dog is so pleased to see him it’s so sweet. I order us a takeaway, veggie ‘chicken’ burgers and fries from our favourite local burger place, £33.

8:15 p.m. – Burgers arrive and I’m really annoyed that I asked for no mayo, and they have taken that as ‘ADD TWO TYPES OF MAYO’. I complain on the Uber Eats app, and they respond to say they can’t guarantee special instructions will be followed so you don’t get a refund – what’s the point in having them then?!

9:30 p.m. – Get ready for bed. Early for a Friday but M isn’t well, and I have to be up for London tomorrow. Skincare, teeth, and reading before lights out.

Total: £72

Day Six

8:30 a.m. – Get up and take the dog out for a quick wee to tide her over until I take her for her walk. Make a cup of tea to take back to bed for a bit. 

9:15 a.m. – Get up later than I should and rush around to get dressed and packed. M and I take the dog for a quick walk together before I set off for the coach station. 

10:45 a.m. – Make it to the coach station on time (ticket bought last week). I brought some fruit in my bag so I feel justified buying some sweets and a Snickers for the journey because, balance, £5. 

1:45 p.m. – Get off the coach and walk round to the station to jump on the train to my friend O’s flat. We’re going for bottomless brunch and out for more drinks, but I’m hoping not to spend too much with our holiday coming up next week. Time and this diary will tell…

3 p.m. – After quickly getting ready and having a glass of prosecco at my friend’s we get an Uber to the venue, which she kindly pays for. It’s a bottomless ‘brunch’ (at 3:30 p.m.) and I order a vegan burger and have an unknown number of cocktails for £35. It’s so nice to catch up with some of my uni friends and meet some of O’s other friends.

8:30 p.m. – We stay at the bar for a few hours, and I manage not to buy any more drinks by finishing off the prosecco that was included in the brunch and accepting shots that are forced upon me. You can’t make someone pay for a shot they don’t want to do, right?! We then move on to another pub where I stick to water. 

11:30 p.m. – I’m secretly thrilled that O’s boyfriend is too drunk, and we need to take him home. We pick up some food on the way home that I will regret tomorrow, £6.

12:30 p.m. – Settle down on my very uncomfortable corner of the sofa for a very broken sleep.

Total: £46

Day Seven

6 a.m. – WHY. Another of O’s friends stayed over as well and has to leave super early, so now I’m awake too. Once he’s gone, I get back into the duvet and watch some YouTube videos, and slowly get ready to head off. They don’t even have any tea, sob. 

9 a.m. – Set off for my coach. Take the train a couple of stops and then onto the Tube. Hopefully I’ll have enough time to get some breakfast, I’m starving!

9:30 a.m. – Arrive at Victoria in time to get a vegan sausage bap, some hash browns, a banana, and an apple, £8.

9:45 a.m. – Walking from Leon to the coach station I check my coach ticket and realise I have the time wrong – I’m booked onto the 11:30 a.m. not the 10 a.m.! I’m so annoyed, but I really can’t be bothered to wait an hour and a half and luckily there are still seats on the 10 a.m. so I book one, £13. 

10 a.m. – Homeward bound! 

12:30 p.m. – Arrive in Bristol and pop to Tesco for a few bits for lunch, including Camembert to bake, bread, crisps, and some biscuits, £10.

12:45 p.m. – I hinted heavily to M that he might like to come and pick me up from the coach, but he isn’t biting, so I decide to treat myself to an Uber home rather than walking for 40 minutes, £9.

2 p.m. – Spend the rest of the afternoon on the sofa with tea and snacks trying to resist the urge to nap. The TfL charge from yesterday comes out of my account, £3.30. 

4 p.m. – I have a headache and instead of continuing to stare at a screen I decide to take the dog out. I go for a half-hour walk around the lake, then come back and have my Sunday ‘everything’ shower. It’s so nice to start the new week feeling put back together. I also give the house a quick tidy – I would normally do a big clean on a Sunday, but I’ll do that before we go on holiday so this will do for now. 

6 p.m. – We’re both too tired to cook so M orders us Greek wraps for dinner. I have mine with halloumi and we eat them in front of Spider-Man: No Way Home, what a combination.

9 p.m. – I decide to get an early night before work tomorrow so I get ready for bed and then read my book for an hour before going to sleep. 

Total: £43.30

The Breakdown

Food & Drink: £154.49
Clothes & Beauty: £29
Home & Health: £15.99
Entertainment: £5
Travel: £25.30
Other: £99.99

Total: £338.77


“I would say this was a fairly average week for me. Although I obviously don’t go into London every weekend, I do usually try and book in at least one meet-up with friends, so my spending would be fairly similar. I’m not surprised that food and drink is my biggest spending area, but this total did shock me! I budget around £200 for the whole month, including takeaways, although this doesn’t include eating out which I have a separate pot for, so maybe it’s not as bad as I think. Keeping this diary was actually really useful even though I do always keep a close eye on my spending. I’s definitely made me think I need to pay more attention to how much I’m spending here and there as, particularly on food, it can add up.”

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