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 performer (mainly theatre) and I also teach acting and voice. I’ve created a business where I teach group workshops or individuals in person and online and I absolutely love it. It’s a great way to make sure my bills are paid as a freelance artist. I also work as a performer and do auditions for various different projects — I work both as an actor and a singer and have been really lucky to travel the world a lot. I love yoga, fitness, food and travel and that’s what I spend my money on, if it isn’t on the arts (going to the theatre or the cinema). I really enjoy teaching and don’t feel like I’m missing out whenever I do it more full time. I would love to own a home and have a family one day, but not right now as I have some awesome people in my life and love hanging out with them.”

Occupation: Performer and acting teacher 
Industry: Theatre and the arts
Age: 31
Location: London
Salary: £35,000 (on average)
Paycheque Amount: £3,000 (This is an average as I am self-employed and project based, so it is changeable.) 
Number of housemates: One flatmate
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses

Housing costs: £800 rent
Loan payments: £55 on student maintenance loan.
Savings?: £20,000. I was only able to save this due to moving back to my parents’ house for a couple of years while working during the pandemic.
Pension? No, I currently do not — it’s trickier when self-employed. 

Utilities: My half: £90 council tax; £20 internet; £40 gas; £25 electricity; £25 water. 
All other monthly payments: £44.10 Worldwide Data Plan (I travel lots for work); £37.50 paying off new iPhone; £21.99 gym; £14.50 professional performers membership; £40.68 car insurance. 
Subscriptions: None

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it? Yes — a bachelor’s degree where I was awarded a full tuition-fee scholarship and got a maintenance loan. I then did a master’s degree — I got a little inheritance from a grandparent and I worked every day I was not at school to pay for it. I got very good at making Tupperware lunches during those times!

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
My mother has a great mentality when it comes to money. We never had lots growing up as she was a single mum, but she often says “Money comes and goes”. She grafted to provide for us but I never felt like I was not able to do something. She empowered me to make me feel like I was always able to earn. Most of my family are self-employed, so the conversations were always about navigating that. 

If you have, when did you move out of your parents’/guardians’ house?
I moved out when I went to drama school at 19, but then many years later I came back for a few years (many of my mates did the same in lockdown, which made me feel a bit better about it). Thankfully, I am now back living London life again. 

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I was helped a bit through my degrees but I always worked before and during studying. Then at around 24 I was paying my way in London — but I knew if I needed help with something unexpected, it was there. I would say at about 28 I started earning better and was able to cover everything. 

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as a waitress at 14 years old. I did my work experience there and then got a weekend job. My mum wanted us to learn the value of money — and we did not get pocket money — so that was my spending money.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. I know I am able to earn enough for life but as I am self-employed things could get cancelled at the last minute. And that worries me, as I don’t know for certain how much is coming in every month. 

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
I got that little lump sum to help towards my degree as mentioned above, but other than that, no.

Day One

8 a.m. — I have already been up for a few hours lying in bed because I’m an early riser. I have to learn some material for an audition, so I lie in bed testing myself on my lines. 

8:30 a.m. — I get up and make my regular brekkie: iced oat milk latte and porridge with blueberries (no dairy allowed as it’s not great for my singing voice). 

10 a.m. — Reread the audition preparation email and realise I need a headshot printed — so old school. I haven’t had to do that for years and I don’t have any in my flat, or any that are up to date. I walk to a photo printing shop nearby to get a few headshots printed, £14 (spoiler: when I arrive they say they don’t need it as they have my CV, and I can have it back).

12 p.m. — I make myself a healthy good pre-audition lunch — this normally means something quite plain that has carbs to keep me going. I’m starting to get a bit nervous as it’s a big opportunity. I go over all of my material and warm up my voice. 

1 p.m. — I head to central London on the tube and add £10 to my Oyster card. I’m wearing the warmest clothes as it’s a freezing outside and I have to change into my audition clothes at the venue.

1:30 p.m. — I’m hungry and need a boost so I buy a protein drink, £2.25. 

2 p.m. — I get recalled through the first round which is great because that means the panel get to see more of the material I had prepared. That’s always a good feeling. 

4:30 p.m. — I find a room that I can work from and make a call on Zoom for an hour. 

6 p.m. — My friend L meets up with me and hears all about the audition (this person is lovely and always says the right thing). We get Taiwanese food in Soho — a little cash-only joint we always like to go to if we are in central together. We always share two dishes and split the bill, £20. 

7:30 p.m. — We decide to grab a drink to carry on chatting at a pub. I get one glass of rosé and L pays for the drinks. 

9 p.m. — I jump on the tube back home; by this point I am exhausted from the adrenaline and the freezing cold but the day felt positive. 

Total: £46.25

Day Two

8 a.m. — I wake up and check my emails. I see a discount code for flowers so I buy my mum some letterbox flowers as I want to send her some love and good energy, £18.

9 a.m. — I head to my computer to work after a shower and breakfast.

10 a.m. — My flatmate drops me a text and tells me I owe them for the gas bill. This is double the amount it was before which is surprising as I’ve been away a lot, but it is winter. 

11 a.m. — My cousin P texts me and asks if I’m free for coffee. I’m normally busy teaching at that time, but I just so happen to be free. They choose one near to me that they love and which is on the way to their university. P is a graphic designer so we love talking life and art, £3.50.

12:30 p.m. — I go grocery shopping for my next few meals as I am near the shops. I choose to buy only vegan produce because I just watched You Are What You Eat on Netflix and I was amazed by the health benefits. The shop comes to £10.85.

12:45 p.m. — I then head to a specialist Asian food store to pick up some bits I like to cook with, £6.

1:15 p.m. — I work from my computer for the rest of the day. This is a very nerve-racking time of year for lots of my students, so I’m having to calm them down and reassure them a lot.

6 p.m. — I cook a veggie risotto and fall asleep watching some easy-to-watch movie on Netflix… Can’t even remember the name. 

Total: £38.35

Day Three 

9 a.m. — My best mate J, who lives nearby, said on her Instagram story that she’s going to the gym for a session (she works as a PT), so I head to join. It is such a great catch up that it distracts me from how hard her work out was. 

11 a.m. —Work. I get an email from a theatre company saying I’ve booked an acting job abroad for the next two months, after three rounds of auditions. This makes me really happy as I really like what the production is about. 

5 p.m. — L and I have plans to hang out. They suggest going to get some Indian food at my little local shop that’s really good and super cheap. I’m starving so I suggest going straight away. It is delicious and the roti is amazing. L pays. 

6 p.m. — We look up film times and decide last minute to go to the cinema. The time that works ends up being a cheesy romcom but it’s cute and a nice relaxer. I pay for both of us as L got the food, £15.98. 

8 p.m. — I head back and then lie in bed in my heated blanket. I make some video calls to friends I recently did a performance job with, who live all around the world. 

10:30 p.m. — Sleep.

Total: £15.98

Day Four

8 a.m. — I get up and make breakfast. My flatmate’s room is attached to the kitchen, so even though I always wake up early, I always wait until 8 a.m. to get coffee to make sure I don’t wake them with the Nespresso machine.

9 a.m. — Jump in the shower and then move to my desk to work.

1 p.m. — I cook ramen from my groceries to warm me up and huddle under a blanket. I watch Saltburn over my lunch break on my flatmate’s Amazon Prime. It was… Interesting. 

3 p.m. — I get back to my desk to teach some overseas students and to do some admin. I have a lot of admin because of my business, but I work from a handwritten diary which helps keep me on track.

7 p.m. — I am too tired to cook again, so I order from a takeaway app. I get my favourite Thai food from a restaurant around the corner that always arrives in like 10 minutes. They do the best salt and pepper chips! The total comes to £18. 

8 p.m. — I pretty much fall asleep straight after washing up (I still have half my pad see ew dish left for leftovers, result).

Total: £18

Day Five

9 a.m. — I start work later today so I can lie in a bit. I notice there is no loo roll so I run to the supermarket. While I’m there I pick other bits I need. I have decided I need more veggies in my life, £30.01. 

10:30 a.m. — Work at my desk.

1 p.m. — I cook myself a falafel and aubergine lunch. 

6 p.m. — I have plans tonight with my friend G. She has never visited my flat before so comes over to see it. She loves my room and I take it as a massive compliment as she has a home décor Insta page and is super stylish. She has just moved to London with her fiancé and I’m glad she is now nearby. She is also in my industry (more towards film) and, as I’ve been away for a while performing, we have a lot to talk about. 

7 p.m. — We go to my local Japanese restaurant and get a starter and a share a main, £11.05.

8 p.m. — We head on from there to my favourite local bar and have two cocktails each. My mates own this place and it’s majorly cool, so I want my friend to see it. The cocktails are delicious; I get a berry one and then a miso one, £24.

8 p.m. — After chatting loads we head back to mine and catch up more, chilling on my bed and discussing things we’ve watched recently — which leads us to talk about the meat industry.

10:30 p.m. — G leaves for the train and I nod off. 

Total: £65.06

Day Six

8 a.m. — I make breakfast, same as usual. I receive the contract for my new job so lie in bed going over everything.

10 a.m. — I work at my laptop for the morning.

1 p.m. — I’m teaching in-person this afternoon. My students are working really hard this week, which is great to see. 

4 p.m. — I call up and book a pedicure for 20 minutes’ time — my feet are FREEZING today and I literally want to pay someone to make them warm again, £30. The only time I’m girly is when I get my nails done. 

5:30 p.m. — I run to the little independent cinema in my area to make it to a showing of Poor Things. I head there with my friend M and I pay for both of us, £26. There are only seats right at the front and my eyes take some time to adjust. I always feel the need to keep up to date with all the best films, and watch everything that is doing well during awards season. I like observing the actors’ performances, the director’s choices and having an opinion on them. Again, the film was… Interesting. 

8:30 p.m. — We go for Mexican tacos at a cute little takeaway spot where you can also grab a stool and eat in. The people working there are so nice and let me try little tasters of all the stuff. M pays. 

9 p.m. — My stomach isn’t too happy. Like most females, bloating and cramps after some foods are a thing for me. I call an early night. 

Total: £56

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I have a really heavy work day today. I have some big deadlines coming up and I also need to earn as much as possible. I normally earn less in the summer months so I say yes to everything at this time of year.

1 p.m. — I cook lunch from the groceries I got earlier this week — brown rice, broccoli and vegan sausages covered in my favourite chilli oil. 

6 p.m. — I’m absolutely exhausted. I’ve had to be really switched on for every moment and move today and I talk a lot when I work which has taken it out of me.

9 p.m. — I fall asleep early without eating dinner. I don’t even make it through one episode of what I was watching in bed…

Total: £0

The Breakdown

Food & Drink: £125.66
Clothes & Beauty: £30
Home & Health: £0
Entertainment: £41.98
Transport: £10
Other: £32

Total: £239.64


“I think this is a fair representation of a week in London, however I work away a lot and those weeks can look quite different. It was really interesting recording a money diary as I normally do lots of social things at the last minute — most of the plans I had in the week were decided on the day. I am not surprised food and entertainment were high, as they are my favourite things (I just gave six black bags of clothes to the charity shop so I am really trying to not buy anything at the moment because I had too much stuff). I don’t think I’ll change anything going forward but maybe I’ll give myself an actual day off work more often around this time of year.”

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