A Week In London On A $77,837 Salary

Welcome toMoney Diaries , where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: an HR advisor who makes $77,837 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on a Take 5 candy bar. Editor’s note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.

Occupation: HR Advisor
Industry: Small Buisness
Age: 26
Location: London/Birmingham
Salary: $77,837
Bonus: ~$14,000
Paycheck (Once Per Month): $4,427

Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $1073 for a cute, one-bed flat just out of London. No roommates unless my sister is crashing for the night.
Student Loan Payments: None. I finished paying my student loan a few months ago!

All Other Monthly Expenses
Netflix: $10.73
Apple Music: $13.42
Birchbox: $13.42
Skating: $53 for unlimited ice time at the local rink
Charitable Donations: $671, mostly to youth helplines and youth programs in East London. I’ve seen firsthand how even a tiny amount can make a massive difference.
Savings: $1,371 plus whatever is left at the end of the month, and most of my bonus. I’m saving in the (distant) hope that I might get a foot on the property ladder one day.

Day One

5:30 a.m. — Wake up and caffeinate self from the coffee machine in the kitchen. Trip over unidentified body spread out over living room floor, and realize it’s my sister seconds before I call the police. I wake her up and send her to make pancakes while I shower. Her having a key might be a good idea after all…

7 a.m. — Hurrah, I’m out of the door on time! I leave my sister (somewhat) awake and remind her she has a couple of classes today that she really isn’t supposed to miss. Make a mental note to add “Surrogate Mom” to my job description when our mother is out of town. Get on the train into London with my contactless bank card. The fact I never spend cash on traveling makes me feel slightly better. The fact I’m pushed nose into armpits the entire commute makes me feel less so. Arrive at work without forking out any money on additional coffee or breakfast or Random Amazon Purchases! $8.99

8:30 a.m. — I started a very small startup with a great coworker about two years ago. At the moment, it’s just the two of us and an admin assistant, which works well because we get on great! Anything above salaries, office hires, administrative supplies, and a small reserve fund gets split equally as “bonuses.” So far, we’re breaking even and are even considering branching out and hiring more, which I consider a plus. The admin assistant (we’ll call her A.) brings in Starbucks for the two of us and puts it on a company card. My business partner (H.) is away for the next couple of days so it’s just two of us in the office.

11:15 a.m. — After a morning of staring at a computer screen and writing policies, I need to get outside. A newish client of ours calls and asks to meet up, so I head out. The client runs an IT startup and has an issue with a new staff member. We walk around a central London park for a couple of hours and I run down what he needs to do legally, and what I would do in the situation. He seems remarkably happy with the outcome and leaves happy. While we are walking, I buy us coffees from a vendor but they don’t have receipts so I can’t claim. Doh! $9.12

2 p.m. — Get back to the office and eat a KIND bar and a satsuma. We don’t usually claim anything other than coffees or client lunches, but we each bring in random crap from time to time and chuck it in a free-for-all pile. (Except chocolate: Those babies stay right in my desk where they belong!)

4:45 p.m. — I don’t usually leave this early but there’s such a thing as too many emails, and I’ve hit that ceiling for the day. Plus, I have plans. I grab a brie and cranberry sandwich, a Diet Coke, and carrot cake bar from the shop on the way to the tube ($4.69) and then get myself across London to my next destination ($3.75) $8.44

5:30 p.m. — On Monday evenings, I tutor as part of a disadvantaged kids scheme in a rougher area of the city. I take a group of six 13-year-olds in math for an hour or so, and then swap and get six 15-year-olds in history. Their behavior isn’t the world’s greatest, but it makes the victory sweeter for me when they understand a concept. After we finish, I grab a slice of pizza the organizers bring to bribe the kids and reward the staff, and chat with a few other tutors. We arrange to go out for drinks after a volunteer meeting on Thursday.

8 p.m. — Home! It’s a stressful commute because my mother just arrived back in London and can’t figure out how to use Uber. (I’ve only demonstrated 100 times!) I tell her where to wait, what the Uber will look like, and what the reg will be, and she still manages to miss it…twice. When she’s finally in the car and I’ve paid two $6.70 missed fees, she calls me and tells me (loudly) how great her flight was and how unhappy the driver looks. (Wince.) Well, I guess that’s bye-bye to my five-star Uber customer rating. Her ride comes out at $41.02, plus the late fees. At least my Contactless caps, only charging me $5.63 for the way home. $60.05

10 p.m. — Get home and realize my sister has left with my favorite PJs and all the 50 ps from my spare change jar. I should probably set some ground rules, but honestly I’m used to it now. And I love her. And trust me: I’ll make her pay when she gets a job. I eat all the leftover cold pancakes from breakfast because I’m gross like that and super hungry. Roll into bed without spending more money!

Daily Total: $86.60

Day Two

4:45 a.m. — Wake up ridiculously early and go for a run. Afterwards, I feel like a champion athlete who has her life together and knows exactly what she’s doing. Seriously hoping I don’t trip over anything and ruin the illusion. Make a smoothie with spinach, bananas, raspberries, pears and almond milk. Eat a slice of sourdough bread with avocado and Marmite.

7:45 a.m. — Today is a Birmingham day, and just in case you ever considered commuting halfway up a country multiple times a week, don’t. My train goes from the local station though, so I don’t have to go via London! The tickets are bought by the company several weeks in advance. I plug headphones into my laptop and continue with the super-fun policies I am drafting.

9:30 a.m. — Here’s the deal with the commute: A fair deal of our clients are based here in Birmingham and being able to meet at a moment’s notice is important for the business, so I position myself up here a couple of times a week. We can’t afford office space though, so I normally park out at a cute independent coffee shop and move around as the day progresses, depending on what the clients need. I greet the friendly waitress and the owner, hook my laptop to the Wi-Fi, and check my schedule. I have three appointments today, and all three will meet me here. I order a water and a latte, but they will bill me at the end of the day.

4 p.m. — All three appointments and the policies are done, and I’m feeling super accomplished. Throughout the day I’ve gotten through two lattes, a panini, a muffin and at least five waters. Goodness knows what the clients ordered, but I pick that up as well. The total comes to $34.04 which goes straight on the company card, but I tip $13.40 because I understand how annoying it is to have someone invade your coffee shop for seven hours straight. $13.40

4:15 p.m. — A. calls me as I leave the coffee shop, and she has H. on conference. We talk shop for a good while and I browse the shopping center by the train station since I have some time. I’m all kinds of distracted, but Black Friday lasts a week in the U.K. and I manage to grab a great deal on a new work blazer ($46.89) a pair of Vans for the sister for Christmas ($40.19) and some gourmet lemon and black pepper popcorn ($6.43). I decide that’s enough damage for now and hop on my train, still on the phone. $93.51

6:30 p.m. — Still on the phone when I get home, and am getting slightly annoyed. H. and A. seem to be having some long boring conversation about billing (yes, I know I should care, but I honestly don’t). Eventually, I put them on mute and start cooking. I’m starving. I make a massive pesto pasta dish and convince myself that because I put mushrooms and asparagus in, I’ve earned the carbs. The conversation ends and my phone loads all the WhatsApp messages I’ve missed. One is from a great friend/FWB asking if I’m free. Um, yes? I put on something nicer than I’m wearing currently and tidy a bit before he heads over. We bed down early, since I’m exhausted.

Daily Total: $106.91

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Ah, sleep! I feel refreshed and the fact that my FWB brings me coffee in bed only amplifies this. FWB is working from London today too, but he’s driving in so I ditch the underground and grab a ride. H. is back in today and I try to get in first. Success! A. brings Starbucks and we start the day with the completion of the billing conversation from yesterday. I try to contribute, and fail.

11 a.m. — Work, work, work. Today I have lunch with a potential client, and I spend most of the morning researching his company. Seems like it would be my dream job if I weren’t doing what I am. A. stops by my desk for a catch-up and seems deviously interested in my night with the FWB. She asks if I’m interested in anything more than the somewhat frequent nights we’ve been having as of late, and I’m not so sure. I’ve been close friends with the FWB for years now, and don’t particularly want to screw it up with the whole relationship thing (which I’m not great at, tbh).

1 p.m. — Lunchtime, and boy, is this guy cute! We chat and flirt and generally have fun for the entire hour, but I’m slightly dubious of taking him as a client, because of legal concerns I have about the way his company operates. I explain this to him, and he offers to take me out to drinks to discuss it. Um, awkward? But sure. We make time on Friday night. We ate tons at the sushi place we are at, but he grabs the bill before I can, and tells me he’ll write it off as a business expense. Fair play.

6 p.m. — I wait for the FWB for a ride out of the city, and we stop on the way back at our local ice rink. We both have unlimited passes and keep our skates at the rink, so it’s normally a spur-of-the-moment thing. I used to skate semi-professionally and so did he. (It’s how we met and became friends!) Now we just use it as a fun way to work out and (literally) chill. We grab burgers on the way out; he pays.

9 p.m. — Completely forgot my mother and sister were heading over for a late dinner, and quickly order Dominos. Alas, I am full from my burger, but I get to watch them eat (and steal the best slices for breakfast in the morning!). We catch up on Designated Survivor, and I catch up on a few work emails and texts. After they head home, I crash into bed. I only paid for a pizza today: I am a money-saving ninja. $20.10

Daily Total: $20.10

Day Four

7:45 a.m. — It was a BAD morning… I remember little, but my bank statement tells the sad tale: One large coffee on the way to work ($3.75), the commute itself ($9.11), and another coffee and croissant near work ($9.25). I look like hell in the mirror, and am wondering if this is a sign from above that I should not go out to drinks on Friday with this new guy? I contemplate whilst burying myself in a massive workload, surfacing only for the occasional Haribo or KIND bar. $22.11

12 p.m. — A. feels sorry for me and brings me a bagel, which I scarf down while browsing Amazon. (Remember when I said I hadn’t made any Random Amazon Purchases yet? Here’s why I was afraid.) I buy fairy lights for my room, a star-shaped cake pan and pillows. I share an account with my mother, so I transfer her $33.53 to cover it. $33.53

4 p.m. — It’s been a haze of work and snack food, and I finally leave the office and head across London for more tutoring, the volunteers meeting, and drinks. I teach math for an hour, and then our meeting begins. We discuss some of the regular kids’ ongoing issues, what extra support is needed, etc. We are also losing a couple of volunteers so I offer to tutor two sessions on a Thursday instead of one. The leader looks at me like I’m a godsend, and I’m content with my hero status. I beg off drinks because I’m still not feeling great, and head home. Through some weird fluke, I’m not charged for my commute to or from the school I tutor in.

8 p.m. — I get home and pretty much collapse on a heap in bed. I call A. and discover I have no actual clients to meet in Birmingham tomorrow. Unless that changes, I’m not going to make the trek. The FWB calls to see if I’m around. I explain how I feel and beg off, but he shows up with lemons, ginger, and honey to make tea, and basically babies me until I fall asleep. Quite simply, he is the best.

Daily Total: $55.64

Day Five

10:45 a.m. — Well that was a long sleep! I wake up with the FWB beside me and thank my lucky stars that he is around. I’m beginning to feel guilty about this date tonight though. FWB is beginning to feel a lot more like BF, and I feel like a conversation might be around the corner. I decide I’ll wait for him to initiate though. FWB has the day off so we head over to our fave brunch place/old haunt and get waffles with as many toppings as humanly possible. I grab the bill since he’s been paying for everything recently. $43.93

2:30 p.m. — We decide to make a day of it and head to a local market as we’re both pretty much out of food. I buy broccoli, mushrooms, leeks, asparagus, squash, a swede, sweet potatoes avocados and garlic, as well as a freshly baked loaf of sourdough. He buys pretty much the same, but they only accept cash so he pays. Next, we head to the local supermarket and I buy juice, sprite, pasta, halloumi, black beans, almond milk and canned tomatoes. He also picks up a basketful, and I cover the cost for the both of us. We head back to mine for a little Netflix and chill. $75.96

5:45 p.m. — I casually (I hope!) bring up my plans of going into London this evening for work drinks, and FWB insists I haven’t crashed enough yet and suggests bailing. Though I find the suggestion sweet, I don’t generally drink anyways so I know the night won’t be too rough. We part ways and I jump on a train into central. Again, my card doesn’t charge me for the travel and I feel super lucky right now. This may wind up being a cheaper night than I assumed!

5:57 p.m. — I spoke too soon on the cheap evening front. The Bestie texts me to remind me to buy Trevor Noah tickets for his show at the O2 in six months, and I head over to the Amazon Tickets website because I have a voucher. All the good seats have sold out and the only ones left are SUPER high and far back. On the plus side, they’re cheap! It comes to $80.07 but the voucher knocks a fair bit off. $46.57

7:15 p.m. — Well that was awkward. Cute New Prospective Client brings one of his investors, L., and L. brings a date. L. gets really drunk and keeps making super inappropriate jokes about where the evening is going to go. Even his date is embarrassed, as is the Cute Guy. I drink a lemonade, but I’m really not feeling tonight and bow out after a little shop talk. Cute Guy says he will grab the tab we’ve opened on his way out, but I pay anyway and put it on the company card. ($44.57)

10:15 p.m. — Still trying to get out of London but trains are a nightmare. I’m starving — and take it from a London girl — Nando’s is the only place worth heading for a mammoth pile of junk food. I get a chicken burger, spicy rice and garlic bread to-go, and eat it cross-legged in the middle of an aisle on a packed train. I try not to count all the people judging me right now, but it’s hard. The FWB texts and asks how the night has gone. Um, not good? He’s near the train station anyway, and swings by to pick me up and take me home. $16.89

Daily Total: $183.35

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Wake up for the third morning this week with the FWB by my side. Life could be worse. Mindful of all he’s been doing lately, I get out of bed and leg it down to the bakery around the corner, and he wakes up to fresh croissants and coffee. He’s in the mood for a long, lazy lie in. I’m not opposed, but I have a bunch of work to catch up on from yesterday, so I bring my laptop into bed. $2.65

11:45 a.m. — I have plans for the afternoon so I ditch the laptop and put some actual clothes on. I leave the FWB in bed and head into London. Obviously, the day needs more coffee than my place can supply, so I stop at Starbucks. ($4.82) The transport gods are not on my side today, and I get charged for my travel. ($8.31) $13.13

3:45 p.m. — The program I tutor for during the week is having a career fair at a large secondary school today, and so I’m speaking for half an hour about the joys of working “with people” to around 500 teenagers. I’m not really an extrovert so this takes a lot coming from me. I think it came off well, but I’m exhausted from the second I step off the stage. I thank the organizer — it is truly a great event — and head home. I can’t resist stopping to pick up my mum’s Christmas present from the White Company: a giant, shaggy grey throw. They have 40% off for Black Friday (seriously, stop saying every day is Friday) so I only part with $87.07. Return rail fare is $8.31. $95.38

5:30 p.m. — I get back to my place and the FWB suggests we head to his place to cook dinner, which I am totally up for. FWB lives with his parents but they are away a lot. Their house is AMAZING though! My sister texts during the drive to ask if I need anything, which is code for “I’m broke.” I’m in a particularly lazy and selfish mood and suggest she tidies my apartment and does laundry while I’m out. She agrees, and I transfer her some cash. $26.80

7:30 p.m. — Dinner was amazing; FWB sure can cook! We eat asparagus, chicken, salad, and chocolate fondue with strawberries AND marshmallows. I feel like a kid again. FWB also brings up the exclusivity/dating aspect during dinner, and suggests we do a trial basis of dating, which I’m totally up for, as the main reason I didn’t want to dive into this in the first place was the fact I could quite easily screw it up! We tidy up a little, shower, and I head to bed with my BOYFRIEND. Hell yeah. Look at me adulting all over the place.

Daily Total: $137.96

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — Wake up next to the BF (!!!!) and wonder what that crazy ringing is. Oh, right. Phone. I find it just as it goes to voicemail and realize I have about 30 missed calls from A. and H. I call H. back and conference in A. Turns out one of our biggest clients is having a mini-meltdown and everyone is heading into London now. I remember the downside to owning a startup, and try not to wake up the BF while desperately hunting down clothes. I find a pair of my jeans in the wardrobe, tuck one of the BF’s white shirts into it, and pull on my converse of last night. Look in the mirror. Well, it will have to do. Kiss the BF goodbye and head out of the door. Ticket barriers are down on a Sunday mornings into London so travel = nada. Plus, no time for coffee. Look at me, winning at the whole not spending money thing.

10:15 a.m. — The client, A., H., and I all meet in a Pret. I’m the last to arrive (imagine that!) but A. has already brought me a chai, a muffin, and dried mango. I realize I would probably die if it weren’t for her. It takes a few hours of reading policies, chatting with the client’s other staff members over the phone, and generally calming everyone down, but eventually we get everything sorted. The client jokes we should bill her more because we had to come in on a Sunday, and we all give each other looks. I leave and find the BF waiting outside the Pret to surprise me. (Due to the Find My Friends app; he’s not a stalker.) Did I mention yet he is the best?

2:30 p.m. — Lunch is fried halloumi sticks from Winter Wonderland (London’s overhyped Christmas market) and churros. Both are cash only and the BF covers it. I pay the entrance and boot costs for the cutesy ice rink, and we spend 45 minutes wowing random strangers, because why not? $29.46

5:30 p.m. — We make it back to my place and roast ALL the veg we brought last week to make up for the terrible eating habits we have had all week. After its done, we divide it amongst all the Tupperware with rice, pasta, and CHEESE. Kabam, all ready to go. We watch Netflix and I try to get a bit of work and tutor prep done before crashing into bed.

Daily Total: $29.46

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