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Money Diary: A 23-Year-Old Brand Executive On 33k

·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 23-year-old brand executive, working from home in Shropshire for a London-based hospitality company. I’ve only been in my current role for two months after moving from the automotive industry. My role is very similar to my previous one but I managed to increase my salary by £7k by moving companies (girls, definitely move jobs if you think you’re being underpaid!).

Due to the pandemic, I stayed at my childhood home with my parents and older sister. Not moving to London has enabled me to save quite a large sum of money as I have only been paying for my food, bills and a contribution to rent. I’ve always been a natural saver but the pandemic granted me the opportunity to save even more. It also made me appreciate the importance of spending time with loved ones and friends and not feeling too guilty about spending money on creating memories or treating myself (occasionally)."

Occupation: Brand executive
Industry: Hospitality
Age: 23
Location: Shropshire
Salary: £33,000
Paycheque amount: £2,100 after tax and student loan deductions.
Number of housemates: Three: Mum, Dad and sister, J.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses

Housing costs: I pay £250 to my parents every month to cover my share of the household bills.
Loan payments: £42 student loan.
Savings? £30,000
Utilities: Covered in my rent cost.
Pension? Not yet. As I’m only two months into my current job, I’ll start paying a 3% contribution from next month.
Other: My phone bill is £20. Subscriptions: £5.99 Netflix, £2.25 for my mum’s Prima magazine (£27 for the year).

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

I did an undergraduate business degree after completing my A-levels. For the three years I was there, I had a student loan for my tuition fees and a maintenance loan for living. As the maintenance loan didn’t cover my rent, my parents kindly contributed towards this.

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

My parents have always taught my siblings and I the value of money. They taught us that if we wanted something, we needed to buy it with our pocket money or wait until a special occasion. I truly believe that because of this I’ve always been a big saver and treasured any money I’ve had. My parents also encouraged my siblings and I to avoid credit cards where possible and only purchase something if we can afford it because they both had bad experiences with spending too much money on a credit card.

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

I moved out of my parents' house to attend university and complete a placement year. However, to their surprise, I’m back living there and have been for the past 18 months (due to the pandemic).

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself?

After graduating last June, I became financially responsible for myself. I am currently living at home but I pay for everything myself and contribute to rent. One thing my parents pay for is my car. I share it with my dad and as he uses it the most (to get to work), he pays for the maintenance.

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

I got my first job when I was 16, working every weekend and holiday in a local stately home cafe. The main reason I got this job was for extra spending money so that I had the independence to purchase what I wanted without having to wait for my birthday or Christmas.

Do you worry about money now?

Yes! One of my biggest fears is running out of money, hence why I’m an avid saver in an attempt to prevent this happening. I’ve always been someone who has felt incredibly guilty spending money. Recently I’ve been trying to change this mindset slightly and 'live a little'. I now feel that I have a good balance between spending and saving.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? No.

<strong>Day One</strong><br> <br>7.50am: I wake up before my alarm but decide to get up anyway and head downstairs because the thought of breakfast tempts me. <br><br>8.45am: I switch my laptop on and start work for the day. I make my way down the to-do list I made on Friday. (Note to self: do tasks on Friday, don’t put them off until Monday!)<br> <br>1pm: Lunchtime. My sister drives us both to Tesco as she likes to purchase her lunch out. I decide to pick up some crisps for 90p. I’m normally very disciplined when it comes to making my lunch at home (rather than purchasing on the go) but today I fancied a nice snack to accompany my poached eggs on toast. <br> <br>5pm: Today is our food shopping day so I close my laptop promptly and head to Aldi with my mum and sister. I get chicken breasts, sausages, mince beef, mash, rice, pasta sauce, Greek yoghurt, frozen berries, coffee, giant oranges, bananas, mushrooms, coconut milk, bread, chocolate and eggs. £25.67<br><br>6.30pm: Dinner straight after a food shop is always the best! I make spaghetti bolognese, which I eat with my family. We try to eat our evening meal together every night if we can as it’s a great way to catch up on each other’s day. <br><br>8pm: After dinner I text one of my friends. She’s moving to London in a month’s time so I book an advance train to see her once she’s settled in. £43. She says I can stay at her place so no need to book a hotel. I then sit down with my family to watch an episode of <em>Ridley Road</em> on catch-up. What a fantastic and highly gripping series. <br><br>9.30pm: I’ve got a very early start tomorrow morning so a good night’s sleep is needed. I read a few pages of my book, <em>The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo</em>, before falling asleep.<br> <br><strong>Total: £69.57</strong>
Day One

7.50am: I wake up before my alarm but decide to get up anyway and head downstairs because the thought of breakfast tempts me.

8.45am: I switch my laptop on and start work for the day. I make my way down the to-do list I made on Friday. (Note to self: do tasks on Friday, don’t put them off until Monday!)

1pm: Lunchtime. My sister drives us both to Tesco as she likes to purchase her lunch out. I decide to pick up some crisps for 90p. I’m normally very disciplined when it comes to making my lunch at home (rather than purchasing on the go) but today I fancied a nice snack to accompany my poached eggs on toast.

5pm: Today is our food shopping day so I close my laptop promptly and head to Aldi with my mum and sister. I get chicken breasts, sausages, mince beef, mash, rice, pasta sauce, Greek yoghurt, frozen berries, coffee, giant oranges, bananas, mushrooms, coconut milk, bread, chocolate and eggs. £25.67

6.30pm: Dinner straight after a food shop is always the best! I make spaghetti bolognese, which I eat with my family. We try to eat our evening meal together every night if we can as it’s a great way to catch up on each other’s day.

8pm: After dinner I text one of my friends. She’s moving to London in a month’s time so I book an advance train to see her once she’s settled in. £43. She says I can stay at her place so no need to book a hotel. I then sit down with my family to watch an episode of Ridley Road on catch-up. What a fantastic and highly gripping series.

9.30pm: I’ve got a very early start tomorrow morning so a good night’s sleep is needed. I read a few pages of my book, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, before falling asleep.

Total: £69.57
<strong>Day Two</strong><br> <br>4.15am: Super early start today. My sister and I are heading into our London offices for work but living in Shropshire means a 3+ hour car journey. At present there’s no expectation on me to go into the office but as I’m only two months into the job, it’s a great way to meet more people. I make a coffee to wake myself up for the drive.<br><br>5am: First stop is the petrol station. I fill up the tank and my sister and I split the cost. £18.55 each. <br> <br>8am: Smooth journey, phew! I drop my sister off at the underground station near my office. As I continue driving, I spot a Starbucks so I pop in to grab my second coffee of the day and a cinnamon swirl. I’m still a bit early so I sit in the car and have my breakfast. £6.09<br> <br>9am: I arrive at work and spot one of my teammates. We sit together and soon establish that working only one day in the office is really distracting. There’s so much we want to discuss, it’s difficult to get any work done. Also, being the newbie, my teammate introduces me to different people from across the business as they walk past. <br> <br>12.30pm: Lunchtime. My office is just outside London and so we have a subsidised canteen on site. I opt for chorizo chicken and roast potatoes. £3.25. I sit with my teammate and her other friend and they fill me in on all the previous Christmas parties, socials etc. Oh, how fun it sounded pre-COVID!<br><br>3pm: My teammate and I head to an organised event for younger people within the company. The event organisers told us to help ourselves to any hot drink and cake we want from the onsite coffee shop (for free) so I choose a latte and rocky road. Just what I needed! <br><br>5pm: Home time. I leave pretty sharpish as I promised my sister I’d drive to pick her up rather than make her get on the underground to me. Traffic’s fairly slow as it's rush hour but I make it within 45 minutes. Just another 3+ hours to go.<br><br>5.45pm: My sister’s picked me up the chocolate sharing pouch and smoothie I requested for the journey home. It definitely keeps me going. £3<br><br>9.30pm: We finally reach home and fill our parents in on the office gossip before tucking into a leftover pasta dish. <br><br>10pm: I’m tired after a long day and so I head to bed. I scroll through my emails to see what Refinery29 articles I’ve missed before falling asleep. <br><br><strong>Total: £30.89</strong>
Day Two

4.15am: Super early start today. My sister and I are heading into our London offices for work but living in Shropshire means a 3+ hour car journey. At present there’s no expectation on me to go into the office but as I’m only two months into the job, it’s a great way to meet more people. I make a coffee to wake myself up for the drive.

5am: First stop is the petrol station. I fill up the tank and my sister and I split the cost. £18.55 each.

8am: Smooth journey, phew! I drop my sister off at the underground station near my office. As I continue driving, I spot a Starbucks so I pop in to grab my second coffee of the day and a cinnamon swirl. I’m still a bit early so I sit in the car and have my breakfast. £6.09

9am: I arrive at work and spot one of my teammates. We sit together and soon establish that working only one day in the office is really distracting. There’s so much we want to discuss, it’s difficult to get any work done. Also, being the newbie, my teammate introduces me to different people from across the business as they walk past.

12.30pm: Lunchtime. My office is just outside London and so we have a subsidised canteen on site. I opt for chorizo chicken and roast potatoes. £3.25. I sit with my teammate and her other friend and they fill me in on all the previous Christmas parties, socials etc. Oh, how fun it sounded pre-COVID!

3pm: My teammate and I head to an organised event for younger people within the company. The event organisers told us to help ourselves to any hot drink and cake we want from the onsite coffee shop (for free) so I choose a latte and rocky road. Just what I needed!

5pm: Home time. I leave pretty sharpish as I promised my sister I’d drive to pick her up rather than make her get on the underground to me. Traffic’s fairly slow as it's rush hour but I make it within 45 minutes. Just another 3+ hours to go.

5.45pm: My sister’s picked me up the chocolate sharing pouch and smoothie I requested for the journey home. It definitely keeps me going. £3

9.30pm: We finally reach home and fill our parents in on the office gossip before tucking into a leftover pasta dish.

10pm: I’m tired after a long day and so I head to bed. I scroll through my emails to see what Refinery29 articles I’ve missed before falling asleep.

Total: £30.89
<strong>Day Three</strong><br><br>8am: I wake up and head downstairs for my usual porridge and coffee breakfast combo. I watch <em>Fleabag </em>as I eat. Is it just me who loves watching TV in the morning to wake up? <br><br>8.45am: Sit down at my desk and start replying to emails. One of my teammates calls me to discuss a campaign. I can sense I’m going to have a fairly busy day ahead. <br> <br>12.30pm: Lunchtime. I go with my sister to Co-op as an excuse to get out of the house. I don’t give into the temptation of buying lunch and instead make scrambled eggs on toast when we get home. I’m proud of myself! <br> <br>5pm: I finish work, get changed and head to a Zumba class at a local gym with my mum and sister. Since the pandemic I haven’t renewed my gym membership so I do pay-as-you-go for £6.70. I’m definitely not a dancer but it’s so nice to do some fitness with my family. During lockdown we started doing virtual Zumba classes but doing a class IRL feels so much more exciting. <br> <br>7pm: Back home and start preparing dinner. Tonight I’m having bangers and mash, a classic dish. The four of us sit down to eat together and catch up on each other’s day. <br> <br>8pm: After dinner, my sister and I discuss our upcoming London trip. Despite living over three hours from London, I feel like I’m constantly there. I book us a hotel for two nights using my employee discount. £70 each. <br> <br>10pm: Head to bed to read but I end up getting distracted by a group chat with my friends. <br> <br>11pm: One hour later, I say goodnight to my friends and go to sleep.<br><strong> <br>Total: £76.70</strong>
Day Three

8am: I wake up and head downstairs for my usual porridge and coffee breakfast combo. I watch Fleabag as I eat. Is it just me who loves watching TV in the morning to wake up?

8.45am: Sit down at my desk and start replying to emails. One of my teammates calls me to discuss a campaign. I can sense I’m going to have a fairly busy day ahead.

12.30pm: Lunchtime. I go with my sister to Co-op as an excuse to get out of the house. I don’t give into the temptation of buying lunch and instead make scrambled eggs on toast when we get home. I’m proud of myself!

5pm: I finish work, get changed and head to a Zumba class at a local gym with my mum and sister. Since the pandemic I haven’t renewed my gym membership so I do pay-as-you-go for £6.70. I’m definitely not a dancer but it’s so nice to do some fitness with my family. During lockdown we started doing virtual Zumba classes but doing a class IRL feels so much more exciting.

7pm: Back home and start preparing dinner. Tonight I’m having bangers and mash, a classic dish. The four of us sit down to eat together and catch up on each other’s day.

8pm: After dinner, my sister and I discuss our upcoming London trip. Despite living over three hours from London, I feel like I’m constantly there. I book us a hotel for two nights using my employee discount. £70 each.

10pm: Head to bed to read but I end up getting distracted by a group chat with my friends.

11pm: One hour later, I say goodnight to my friends and go to sleep.

Total: £76.70
<strong>Day Four</strong><br> <br>8am: My alarm goes off and I head downstairs for a bowl of Weetabix and coffee. <br> <br>8.45am: I start work for the day. Being so new into my role, I still have a few intro meetings with stakeholders in the business. I’ve 'buddied up' with another new girl so it makes it easier for both of us.<br> <br>1pm: Lunchtime. I sold a book on Depop so Mum and I walk to our local post office to post it. £3.20. We then walk home and I make avocado on toast for lunch. These avocados are from a few weeks ago, they take so long to ripen!<br> <br>5pm: I close my laptop, put on some gym clothes and go for a 7k run. I try to go for a run twice a week if I can. There’s something so refreshing about putting on a podcast while running. I feel like I’m educating myself on the latest trends and advice while getting in some exercise. <br> <br>6pm: I shower and start preparing dinner. Tonight I’m having Chinese five spice pork loins and egg fried rice. <br><br>8pm: I FaceTime some old uni friends. As we all live so far away from each other, we schedule a video call once a month to catch up. We started calling in lockdown but as we enjoy it so much, we’ve just continued it. <br><br>10pm: We say goodbye and I head downstairs to watch an episode of <em>Modern Love</em> (series one) with my sister. I love how romantic it is but it makes me realise how single I am. <br><br>11pm: I go to bed but spontaneously decide to order a ring I want as a reward to myself for starting a new job. I’ve been eyeing it up for a while but tonight of all nights feel that I deserve it. £54<br><br>11.30pm: Sleep.<br><strong><br>Total: £57.20</strong>
Day Four

8am: My alarm goes off and I head downstairs for a bowl of Weetabix and coffee.

8.45am: I start work for the day. Being so new into my role, I still have a few intro meetings with stakeholders in the business. I’ve 'buddied up' with another new girl so it makes it easier for both of us.

1pm: Lunchtime. I sold a book on Depop so Mum and I walk to our local post office to post it. £3.20. We then walk home and I make avocado on toast for lunch. These avocados are from a few weeks ago, they take so long to ripen!

5pm: I close my laptop, put on some gym clothes and go for a 7k run. I try to go for a run twice a week if I can. There’s something so refreshing about putting on a podcast while running. I feel like I’m educating myself on the latest trends and advice while getting in some exercise.

6pm: I shower and start preparing dinner. Tonight I’m having Chinese five spice pork loins and egg fried rice.

8pm: I FaceTime some old uni friends. As we all live so far away from each other, we schedule a video call once a month to catch up. We started calling in lockdown but as we enjoy it so much, we’ve just continued it.

10pm: We say goodbye and I head downstairs to watch an episode of Modern Love (series one) with my sister. I love how romantic it is but it makes me realise how single I am.

11pm: I go to bed but spontaneously decide to order a ring I want as a reward to myself for starting a new job. I’ve been eyeing it up for a while but tonight of all nights feel that I deserve it. £54

11.30pm: Sleep.

Total: £57.20
<strong>Day Five</strong><br> <br>8am: I feel tired today! I roll out of bed and grab myself a croissant (from the freezer) and jam and coffee for breakfast. <br> <br>9am: I start work. My company has a ‘no meetings Friday’ policy, which means I can have a day catching up on emails. <br> <br>12pm: On my lunch break, I use the time to order my friend a few & Other Stories skincare things for her birthday. I particularly love the Miami Muse range so I order a few different items. I find a discount code online so it only costs £18. <br> <br>6pm: Finished for the weekend! My family and I head out for a meal at a local French restaurant. We don’t do this every week so it feels like a special treat. We all end up getting three courses to prolong the evening. I have to say, the chocolate and salted caramel tart I had for dessert was particularly good. £30 for my share. <br> <br>11pm: Bedtime. I try to read my book but my eyes are drifting so I give up and go to sleep.<br> <br><strong>Total: £48</strong>
Day Five

8am: I feel tired today! I roll out of bed and grab myself a croissant (from the freezer) and jam and coffee for breakfast.

9am: I start work. My company has a ‘no meetings Friday’ policy, which means I can have a day catching up on emails.

12pm: On my lunch break, I use the time to order my friend a few & Other Stories skincare things for her birthday. I particularly love the Miami Muse range so I order a few different items. I find a discount code online so it only costs £18.

6pm: Finished for the weekend! My family and I head out for a meal at a local French restaurant. We don’t do this every week so it feels like a special treat. We all end up getting three courses to prolong the evening. I have to say, the chocolate and salted caramel tart I had for dessert was particularly good. £30 for my share.

11pm: Bedtime. I try to read my book but my eyes are drifting so I give up and go to sleep.

Total: £48
<strong>Day Six</strong><br> <br>9am: It’s the weekend! After a fairly busy week, I definitely am in need of a chill. I make poached eggs on toast for breakfast while talking to my dad about his upcoming birthday plans.<br><br>11am: My mum, dad and I head into our local town to get out of the house for a few hours. Is it just me who feels desperate to leave the house at the weekend after working from home all week? I purchase another bottle of my foundation from Boots for £31. I’ve just heard they’re discontinuing it so I better stock up while I can.<br><br>1pm: We weren’t planning on getting lunch out but we decide to go to a coffee shop for a bite to eat. I have a tuna melt toastie and latte. £8.40. After lunch we walk along the river before heading home. <br><br>3pm: Home time. It feels particularly wintry today so I decide to spend the rest of the afternoon chilling on the sofa, watching season three of <em>Sex Education. </em><br><br>7pm: For dinner tonight, I’m having honey flavoured chicken, rice and mushrooms. My family and I all sit around the table to enjoy dinner together. <br><br>8pm: Living with the parents at this time of year only means one thing: <em>Strictly Come Dancing</em>. I used to hate watching it but now I find myself weirdly enjoying it…<br><br>8.30pm: On this occasion, however, I end up texting a friend about her new job and get distracted. Oops. <br><br>10pm: My parents go to bed so my sister and I watch the Billie Eilish documentary together. We’ve already seen it twice before but we’re obsessed! <br><br>12am: Bedtime. As soon as my head hits the pillow, I fall asleep.<br><br><strong>Total: £39.40</strong>
Day Six

9am: It’s the weekend! After a fairly busy week, I definitely am in need of a chill. I make poached eggs on toast for breakfast while talking to my dad about his upcoming birthday plans.

11am: My mum, dad and I head into our local town to get out of the house for a few hours. Is it just me who feels desperate to leave the house at the weekend after working from home all week? I purchase another bottle of my foundation from Boots for £31. I’ve just heard they’re discontinuing it so I better stock up while I can.

1pm: We weren’t planning on getting lunch out but we decide to go to a coffee shop for a bite to eat. I have a tuna melt toastie and latte. £8.40. After lunch we walk along the river before heading home.

3pm: Home time. It feels particularly wintry today so I decide to spend the rest of the afternoon chilling on the sofa, watching season three of Sex Education.

7pm: For dinner tonight, I’m having honey flavoured chicken, rice and mushrooms. My family and I all sit around the table to enjoy dinner together.

8pm: Living with the parents at this time of year only means one thing: Strictly Come Dancing. I used to hate watching it but now I find myself weirdly enjoying it…

8.30pm: On this occasion, however, I end up texting a friend about her new job and get distracted. Oops.

10pm: My parents go to bed so my sister and I watch the Billie Eilish documentary together. We’ve already seen it twice before but we’re obsessed!

12am: Bedtime. As soon as my head hits the pillow, I fall asleep.

Total: £39.40
<strong>Day Seven</strong><br> <br>10am: I wake up and head for breakfast at the same time as my mum. We discuss last night’s <em>Strictly</em> episode while having our usual porridge. <br><br>12pm: A few hours have passed. One coffee turned into two and before we knew it, half the day was gone. My parents, sister and I head over to my nan’s house for a few hours. There’s a few things she needs help with around the house and she rewards us with a hot drink.<br><br>3pm: Home for some lunch. I make myself a tuna pasta dish and then chill for an hour or so while I read my book. My mission for today is to finish it!<br><br>5pm: Tennis time. Recently, my family and I have been playing tennis at our indoor tennis centre. I’ve played competitively for many years (up until recently) but my family have recently had a shared desire to develop their skills. I use the time to feed them balls and perfect their techniques. We pay £2.50 each for the court. <br><br>7pm: We head home for dinner (leftover chicken and rice) and watch the <em>Strictly Come Dancing</em> results show. <br><br>9.30pm: After a busy week I decide to get an early night. I finally finish my book. I admit that there were a few tears in my eyes. <br><br>10pm: Sleep.<br><strong><br>Total: £2.50</strong>
Day Seven

10am: I wake up and head for breakfast at the same time as my mum. We discuss last night’s Strictly episode while having our usual porridge.

12pm: A few hours have passed. One coffee turned into two and before we knew it, half the day was gone. My parents, sister and I head over to my nan’s house for a few hours. There’s a few things she needs help with around the house and she rewards us with a hot drink.

3pm: Home for some lunch. I make myself a tuna pasta dish and then chill for an hour or so while I read my book. My mission for today is to finish it!

5pm: Tennis time. Recently, my family and I have been playing tennis at our indoor tennis centre. I’ve played competitively for many years (up until recently) but my family have recently had a shared desire to develop their skills. I use the time to feed them balls and perfect their techniques. We pay £2.50 each for the court.

7pm: We head home for dinner (leftover chicken and rice) and watch the Strictly Come Dancing results show.

9.30pm: After a busy week I decide to get an early night. I finally finish my book. I admit that there were a few tears in my eyes.

10pm: Sleep.

Total: £2.50
<strong>The Breakdown</strong><br> <br>Food & Drink: £77.31<br>Entertainment: £0<br>Clothes & Beauty: £103<br>Home & Health: £9.20<br>Travel: £131.55<br>Other: £3.20<br><br> <strong>Total:</strong> <strong>£324.26</strong><br> <br> <strong>Conclusion</strong><br><br>"Looking back, I feel that this is a very typical week in my life. Living at home with my family can be a bit of a whirlwind sometimes but as I am planning on moving to London in a few months, I’m keen to treasure the time I have with them and do as much as we can together (even if that means spending money). While I haven’t been able to see friends IRL this week, I’ve been able to keep in touch virtually and plan future trips with them. As you’ll see from my diary, being Gen Z, I’m also very conscious of work-life balance and so I try to incorporate fun evening activities into my life to ensure I’m getting a healthy mix. After all, they do say ‘all work and no play’. Going forward, I’m going to continue spending money on creating memories with important people in my life and reward myself (in moderation) for working hard while I save for my future."
The Breakdown

Food & Drink: £77.31
Entertainment: £0
Clothes & Beauty: £103
Home & Health: £9.20
Travel: £131.55
Other: £3.20

Total: £324.26

Conclusion

"Looking back, I feel that this is a very typical week in my life. Living at home with my family can be a bit of a whirlwind sometimes but as I am planning on moving to London in a few months, I’m keen to treasure the time I have with them and do as much as we can together (even if that means spending money). While I haven’t been able to see friends IRL this week, I’ve been able to keep in touch virtually and plan future trips with them. As you’ll see from my diary, being Gen Z, I’m also very conscious of work-life balance and so I try to incorporate fun evening activities into my life to ensure I’m getting a healthy mix. After all, they do say ‘all work and no play’. Going forward, I’m going to continue spending money on creating memories with important people in my life and reward myself (in moderation) for working hard while I save for my future."

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