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Money Diary: A 30-Year-Old Market Researcher In Belfast On 34k

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 30-year-old market researcher living in Belfast with my partner, M, and our dog, T. We’ve been living in M’s uncle’s house for the past couple of years, which means we get cheaper rent than you usually would for this area. This puts us in a really privileged position to be able to save towards our own house one day. We haven’t got a timeframe in mind to achieve this goal and are just enjoying living together. My relationship with money is a mix between being sensible and impulsive. My mum has always been very good with money, saving her whole life and encouraging me to take up part-time jobs from the age of 14 to have my own spending money while my dad has always been very flippant, buying expensive purchases on a whim. I think I’ve taken on both of these traits and attitudes! When I was in uni I never had a lot of money left after rent and student fees were paid. What I did have I used to spend on enjoying multiple nights out and then I’d have to live on plain porridge and pasta for two weeks until the next monthly payment. As I got older and got my first graduate job, my spending was erratic and often and I never saved anything. I’ve some regrets about being so foolish with money but I was a bit immature and on the flip side I enjoyed some amazing holidays and festivals. I never saved anything up until about four years ago when I began saving towards an emergency fund and a holiday fund which I now find really satisfying. The emergency fund came in handy when I was made redundant two years ago, I would have been in real trouble without it. I’ve been in my current job for the last two years and when the pandemic hit and I began working from home, one of my coping mechanisms was buying stuff. Looking back, I don’t even know what I have to show for it and have really tried to curb my spending recently. I don’t always win but I’m trying my best to detach emotion from consumerism!”Industry: Market research assistantAge: 30Location: Belfast, Northern IrelandSalary: €40,000 (approx £34k according to the exchange rate today) – I work for a company in Ireland, currently from home.Paycheque amount: €2,498 (approx £2,132) into my Irish bank account after tax and pension deductions.Number of housemates: My partner, M, and my dog, T.Monthly ExpensesHousing costs: £200 for my half of the rent.Utilities: Each month we each put £250 into our joint Monzo account. All costs given are for my half: groceries (£25-30 a week), pet food (£17 every two months), flea and worming treatment (£7 a month) and monthly utilities which are internet (£23.25), pet insurance (£13), sofa (£20), electricity (£25). Each year we buy a full oil tank which is £215 for my half. TV licence £20 every quarter, M pays for our coffee beans.Loan payments: I pay £115 a month for student loans.Savings? £6,500 in a Help to Buy ISA, £630 holiday Monzo pots, £3,000 in my UK account and £3,500 in my Irish account.Transportation: £155 PCP (personal contract purchase) payment per month for my car, £34 car insurance, £14 road tax, £40 petrol a week in normal life. With COVID I only travel to my bubble and to the park/beach, so averaging about £40-60 a month.Phone bill: £11 SIM only payment.Other: Monthly: £11.50 Benenden Healthcare, £7.99 Amazon Prime, £9.99 Spotify, £8.99 Netflix, £4.99 Hayu, £5 BPAS. As a woman living in Northern Ireland, the fight to access vital abortion healthcare is still ongoing. BPAS does great work to support anyone struggling and provides objective help for women exploring their pregnancy options. £10 to FareShare, £28.70 Les Mills On Demand every three months, £38 groomers for T every six weeks.If you’re interested in completing your own money diary for Refinery29 please send some information about yourself and your situation to [email protected]. Published diarists are paid. Please note we are not able to respond to all emails.Day One7.15am: Alarm goes off, feeling groggy as. I blame it on the clocks springing forward but it could also be the two glasses of red I polished off while watching Line of Duty (mother of God!).7.45am: Ooops, a quick snooze later and my partner M gets us both out of bed. He feeds our gorgeous wee dog T and makes his lunch for work while I do the usual face wash, SPF, get dressed and check my phone. I moved €1,100 into my Monzo after I got paid on Friday which arrives into my account this morning at £940. Move £270 into my different holiday pots and transfer £600 into another UK bank account. In that account £200 moves directly into my Help to Buy ISA and the rest remains to cover the other monthly expenses. I keep £70 in my personal Monzo and tell myself that’s the max amount I’m allowed to spend this week. I think I’m quite good with money but since working from home the past year I’ve gotten into a bad habit of thinking that buying stuff, either for myself, M, T or family/friends, will bring me joy. It’s a pandemic vice I’m trying to get a grip of at the minute. 8.15am: Go to bring T out on his morning walk. It’s raining so I get suited and booted in my waterproofs and go to leave the house… Diva dog refuses to cross the front door and simply sits down in protest. I bring him in and play some games instead, some light tug of war (he always wins) and squeaky toy joy.8.55am: Log on and review any emails, check what’s in my calendar for the week and make a quick to-do list. Surprised to find the calendar looks quite free for this week so far, maybe people are winding down for Easter… Make myself breakfast of porridge with a banana and a teaspoon of Biscoff spread (I have an awful sweet tooth and this combo is insane) with a glass of water and my vitamins. I have the same breakfast every day, only changing up which fruit I’m going to add in.9.30am: Make a coffee for my morning check-in meeting with my team. 11am: Meeting finishes up and the postman calls with a couple of parcels for me (no surprise there). It’s a bottle of gin I ordered from Craft Gin Club and a new hoodie. I’ve tried really hard to buy better quality clothes this year vs fast fashion so try it on and it feels great and is such a lovely colour so I decide to keep it. (£46 but I paid three days ago.)12.55pm: Have been working on a piece for the commercial team in the US which brings me to lunch. The rain has eased off so head to the park with T for a 40 minute loop while listening to Table Manners podcast. Finish up lunch hour making some poached eggs on toast topped off with a Coke Zero.2pm: Another parcel arrives, it’s four dresses I ordered from & Other Stories as I thought it would be good to have a nice outfit for summer for when we hopefully re-enter the world. Will try on later.3.45pm: Take a break to grab a sparkling water and to try on the dresses. Keeping one of four (£55 but paid for a few days ago, will also get £121 back for the returns). Quickly sort out the returns and back to work.4.15pm: My mind wanders to the tangle in T’s fur that I can’t get out. Check reviews for a different brush and end up buying a pet teezer brush on Amazon, £12. M calls and says he’ll be home from work later than planned, he’s a key worker and is super busy so this isn’t surprising. Grab a Jammie Dodger and a pear (balance?) and get back to work.5.40pm: Finish up work for the day and do a Les Mills grit strength workout followed by 30 minutes of combat. It’s so hard but I love doing a good workout at the start of the week if I feel up to it. Followed up by a shower, getting into comfies and doing evening skincare: The Ordinary glycolic acid toner, Lumene Nordic-C [VALO] Glow Boost serum and Kiehl’s moisturiser.8pm: Heat up mushroom ragu for dinner with fresh tagliatelle and garlic bread for M and myself. Watch an episode of Challenger: The Final Flight with an Options hot chocolate before bedtime reading and meditation.Total: £12Day Two8am: Get up and ready after the alarm snooze again. Usual face cleanse, SPF and bring hyper T for 45 minute walk.8.50am: Log on and make breakfast – porridge with strawberries and the usual water and vitamins – and continue working on the US presentation.9.40am: Coffeeeee. 11am: My mind wanders onto the outnet.com. I browse expensive swimwear for the 2021 summer holiday that’ll happen in my dreams only. 11.30am: Meeting with my manager to review the US work. Get a couple of builds and an additional piece of feedback for a different presentation for the French market, all with end of the day deadlines. I update my to-do list and grab an orange before getting started.1.40pm: Break for a late lunch as I can feel myself getting grumpy – poached eggs with leftover mushroom ragu. I see there’s a couple of sad carrots and celery sticks about to go off so I chop them up with an onion and some bacon, fry them all off and add some lentils and stock to make a soup.2.20pm: Back at it with a Coke Zero (don’t at me).3pm: Finish off the US work and send on to my manager. Take a 10 minute break to reset before I work on the France analysis. See an influencer I follow is doing a 60% off code for Myvitamins so stock up on some cod liver oil, multivitamins and biotin. Total comes to £17.27 with the discount. Also eat a biscuit and have some cuddles with my pup.5.15pm: France work completed and emailed to my manager. Spend the last 15 minutes of the day running a few reports which tomorrow I’ll need to format, analyse the insight and create a presentation for a commercial meeting next week. Get a text from my therapist asking to move our session to tomorrow instead of this evening, which suits me (lockdown evenings involve very few plans).5.50pm: It’s such a gorgeous evening, bright and sunny, so I take T to the park for another walk and run about.6.30pm: Home to do 30 minutes of weights while watching RHONY (I welcome the judgements for my love of reality TV) then a shower and evening skincare, this time with Facetheory anti-redness toner and Kiehl’s cannabis sativa seed oil herbal concentrate.7.30pm: Start making dinner, which is a sage and sausage pasta dish. Have a protein shake and a glass of wine while I cook.8.30pm: M clears up after dinner while I watch Masterchef and have cuddles with T on the sofa. Don’t feel like reading this evening so just listen to my meditation track. I fall asleep but then wake up in a panic and my mind starts to spiral – nothing like midnight anxiety to keep you awake. Manage to shut off the thoughts and get back to sleep around 12.30am.Total: £17.27Day Three7.30am: Awake a little earlier today and feeling a bit sleepy but get up for usual face cleanse, SPF and attempt a dog walk. It’s raining again so T just has a little sit down and then refuses to go any further, he’s hilarious. Is anyone else’s dog a fair-weather walker? Will try again at lunch. 8.50am: Log on and have a quick catch-up with my manager to confirm the priorities for the week and what needs finished ASAP. When I first joined the company I used to get anxious and panicky about the workload and intense deadlines but as time has gone on I’ve learned how to manage my time better, stress less and reach out for help when feeling overwhelmed – it’s a learning journey!11am: M is working from home today so we have a tea break together with a biscuit.11.30am: Have a call with my dad about getting a new car, my PCP deal is ending next month and I have some savings I can put towards one, then plan to take a loan out for the rest. I think the PCP worked for me at the time as I didn’t have any money for a deposit but this time I’m going to try a different route and own the car afterwards. 1pm: Break for lunch and M and I have the lentil bacon soup and then I take T for a walk while M hoovers the house.2pm: Coke Zero time (little dance).6pm: Finish up after a busy but productive afternoon. A few more emails come in with more urgent data requests which makes me feel a bit stressed. Make a note of them and shut the laptop. Need to release some stress energy so do a 45 minute body combat class then have some Easter egg.7.15pm: Having a lazy tea of a baked potato, beans and a mix of vegetables before my hypnotherapy class. I’ve been doing hypnotherapy with a trainee for the last two months, it’s currently free until he is qualified and it’s for tackling my issues with anxiety that I’ve had for the last six years. I’m slowly and surely coming back to my less anxious self but it’s a long process and I’m committed to hypnotherapy for as long as it takes.8.30pm: Slowly rise from my meditation and feel sleepy but get myself a Roku gin and Fever Tree light tonic for a Zoom call with one of my friends. We have such a lovely catch-up, laughing and hearing (the lack of) updates on each other’s lives. It’s the happiest I’ve felt all week and I feel so grateful for my pals. Sometimes Zoom fatigue can get to me and I put off having catch-ups on them but this reminds me exactly why it’s so important to connect with your people if you feel up to it. 10.30pm: Manage to read only four pages of my book before I’m ready for bed, too sleepy even for meditation.Total: £0Day Four7.30am: Usual morning routine without a walk for me. I ask M to take T out as I’ve a busy day ahead. Get a notification that a pair of trainers I’ve been eyeing up are back in stock in my size. £103.50 after 10% off for signing up to a newsletter. They’re expensive but sustainably made and I can’t help myself. That impulse shopper reappears! £103.508am: Feel guilty about the trainers and remember I’ve now gone over my weekly budget. Five minutes of my mind spiralling. Try to focus on meal planning and organising the online shop at Asda. We used to be Lidl shoppers and then go to Tesco/Sainsbury’s for other bits we couldn’t get but over the last year the queues and how busy it was started to make me really anxious. I also felt that I shouldn’t be going into multiple stores during a pandemic if I could help it so now we do one online shop per week. Total of £52.46, £26.23 for my half for biscuits, crisps, Biscoff spread, spices, onions, shallots, avocado, garlic, mushrooms, eggs, milk, bread, strawberries, blueberries, apples, limes, pears, fresh herbs, black beans, sweetcorn, squash, porridge, yoghurts, prawns, cod, lean beef mince and delivery cost, all to be delivered in five days. 8.30am: Have meetings today from 10-1pm so log on and start trying to finish as much as I can until then, fuelled by coffee. Also set up two kitchen table chairs beside each other so T can sit beside me and snooze.1pm: Finish up with meetings and start to feel a bit stressed that I’ve not had the full morning to work on my list. Deciding to bring T to the park, we have a run around together and it’s sunny and makes me feel relaxed and happy again. Home for soup and an orange.6.20pm: Finish up after a long afternoon pushing to get stuff done. Have a big to-do list tomorrow and definitely consumed half an Easter egg as I worked.6.30pm: Going to stay with my parents for a few days (they’re my bubble so this is within COVID restrictions in NI) so pack up my bags and all the stuff for T, their beloved granddog.7pm: Make a jambalaya for dinner and eat with M before I leave.9pm: Arrive safely and try to calm a hyper T down. He loves seeing them, as do I! We chill and catch up before bed. No reading this evening but I do my meditation.Total: £129.73Day Five7.30am: Up for a different morning walk. T and I head to the beach before work, it’s perfectly quiet, a little bit cold and with blue skies, what a way to start the day. The sea air has magic in it I think! 8.45am: Get to work on finishing up everything with deadlines for today, have cornflakes and a coffee.11.45am: Deadline One complete. A little closer to the long Easter weekend.1pm: Do a 30 minute workout at lunch and make poached eggs before getting back to it.3.45pm: Finish up the last bit of urgent work and have a quick call with my manager who tells me to clock off now. What a treat! Put on my out of office until Wednesday, this is my first break since Christmas and it’s definitely needed.4pm: In a great mood now that I’ve been gifted this extra time this afternoon so take T to another beach for a big long walk.5.30pm: Wash, dry and straighten my hair and pour myself a glass of wine. Have a BBQ with my parents (it’s still below 10 degrees but it’s sunny so BBQ is acceptable).8pm: Sit down to watch The Mauritanian which is such an interesting and slightly harrowing watch. Would recommend if you like drama/legal drama films.10.45pm: Read another few pages of my book before meditation and sleep.Total: £0Day Six8.15am: Up after my big lie-in and do the usual skincare and feed T.9.30am: M arrives and we go for a lovely long walk on the beach with T, getting coffees and cinnamon buns on the way back. We spend the next few hours in the garden in the sun, reading, playing with T and chilling with my parents.4pm: Time for the best part of the week: RuPaul’s Drag Race new US episode. I think all of the queens have been so amazing and fun to watch this year. Rosé to win!5.30pm: Time for another BBQ. I head to the local corner shop to buy butter, wine and a bag of ice. £18.491.30am: Drank all the wine, a few gins, craving chips and want to bring T up to bed. M steers me to bed, leaving T peacefully sleeping and I drop off as soon as my head hits the pillow. Total: £18.49Day Seven8.15am: M wakes up to feed T while I toss and turn in hungover despair.9am: Uuuuuughghh why.9.30am: Make myself get up and have breakfast, craving bacon but have porridge and a banana instead. Yay…10.30am: Bring T for a walk along the beach again, a little slower than our normal pace with only myself to blame.12.30pm: Have a few crisps and a Coke Zero while watching the Formula 1 Netflix series. Don’t think I’ve ever watched a race in my life but I find it a good watch anyway!4pm: Googling when the chippy opens…another hour to wait.5pm: M goes to get us chicken goujons, battered sausages and a curry chip with two cans of Fanta. I pay as he drives and has been looking after my needy self all day. £117pm: Watch Marriage or Mortgage (why do they always pick marriage when the houses look so amazing?) then the latest episode of Line of Duty before reading, cuddles, meditation and bed.Total: £11The BreakdownFood/Drink: £55.72Entertainment: £0Clothes/Beauty: £103.50Travel: £0Other: £29.27Total: £188.49Conclusion”Overall I’d say this was a typical spending week, aside from the new trainers! They arrived and looked amazing so I decided to keep them, even if it did feel like quite an impulsive purchase. I don’t stock up on vitamins every week, usually once every couple of months. As mentioned, COVID times really had me saying to treat myself a lot more than was necessary/sustainable and acceptable but I think I’m slowly getting better.On the whole I’m happy with my spending. I think having to complete this diary made me more aware of pushing away most immediate impulse purchase thoughts.” Like what you see? 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