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Money Diary: A Pharmaceutical Scientist In Southampton On 38k

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 am a 24-year-old medical regulatory scientist and recently bought my first house in Southampton with my partner.My family moved abroad a lot when I was growing up. We moved to the US and were surrounded by this huge wealth in the LA area. It was then that I really started having conversations with my parents about money, the value of it, what we could afford, etc. I really enjoyed being involved in the finances.When I was studying for my bachelor’s degree, I didn’t qualify for any maintenance loans (negatives of moving around a lot!) so I worked all three years of my degree to fund my living and daily costs. This was incredibly hard and I have so much respect for people who manage numerous jobs and balance studying. I think my frugal years as a student have resulted in a permanent money-saving mentality. I love apps like Olio and Too Good To Go; I also love sewing and crafting and try to save money like this wherever possible – I have made all my Christmas presents this year! I do find it hard to treat myself (especially since buying a house) and sometimes have to remind myself to let my hair down and that spending money is not something to feel guilty about. Please note that Southampton was in tier 2 during the writing of this diary, moving to full lockdown on Boxing Day. Both my brother, D, and my friend, A, who have been struggling with their mental health, are going to be staying with us for the foreseeable future.”Industry: PharmaceuticalsAge: 24Location: SouthamptonSalary: £38,880Paycheque amount: £2,221Number of housemates: Two: my fiancé (G) and my doggo (J).Monthly ExpensesHousing costs: Mortgage £1,400 (including a £500 overpayment).Loan payments: £80All other monthly expenses: My half of our bills: electric and gas approx £25, Wi-Fi £12.50, still awaiting our first water bill! Gym membership £40, Netflix – my parents upgraded their account so my siblings and I are all on the same account, Amazon Prime £3.50, phone bill £3.50 SIM only (G), phone bill £6 SIM only, SimplyCook £4, The Times £3, The Guardian £6, Audible (2x) £7. We don’t have a set amount we save at the moment. Having just bought the house, our savings each month are being invested in doing it up.Savings? We’ve just bought our first house and have been in the process of doing renovations over the COVID-19 period. All our purchases and bills are equally spent from our joint account. We have £15,000 in a joint account from which we do our daily spending and all our credit cards are paid. We bulk this up equally every month from our current and saving accounts. We have £30,000 in easy access savings for any emergencies or unexpected circumstances alongside some separate savings and investment accounts, with £50,000 invested (mainly in stocks and shares). Being a woman, I am always reminded of the importance of having separate saving accounts and maintaining financial independence. Day One6am: The alarm goes off. I quickly turn it off and re-evaluate getting up so early. 7.30am: Alarm goes off for the second time! Wake up by cuddling my dog, J, and scrolling the Times app. The concern of COVID numbers increasing is incredibly real. Decide I can’t take hearing about COVID anymore and browse the business section instead. 8am: Open my computer, evaluate my meetings for the day and start making a coffee in the Moka Pot. My fiancé, G, arrives home after his night shift and we spend 10 minutes catching up before he heads upstairs to get some rest. Decide to clear some emails while having some toast and Marmite peanut butter (it is most definitely “love it or hate it”). 9am: Wait in the long line outside the post office to send my last Christmas presents! Finished making a quilt for my cousin’s son yesterday at midnight so need to get it sent asap as I’m worried it won’t arrive by Christmas.10am: I leave the post office positively shaking after overhearing a conversation about the need to not wear masks. Couldn’t bite my tongue and ended up being confronted on whether I’m a scientist or not? I greatly enjoyed being able to answer this with yes! My share of packaging and postage for all my Christmas presents: £9.54. 12pm: Take a break from meetings and have a personal call with a colleague over lunch. Make a huge portion of tuna, sweetcorn pasta salad so G can have some whenever he wakes up. 2pm: My work Christmas hampers have arrived and I contemplate opening the mulled wine straightaway but settle for a mince pie. My favourite company perk around this time of year is the hampers!5pm: Realise how little work I’ve managed to get done today because of all the Christmas-themed meetings and events I’ve attended. I’ll have to work late this evening to get everything closed out before my Christmas break. G has awoken so we catch up and cook dinner together: beef and red wine parcels. 7.30pm: G leaves for work and I take J out for a walk. I’m really missing my grandma and am so sad that I can’t see her at Christmas so I give her a call and have a chitchat.10.30pm: End up on the phone with my mum talking about anything and everything for almost two hours…whoops! Remember I have loads of work to do so I can go on vacation, so grab my laptop. 2am: Finally curl up in bed! Total: £9.54Day Two8am: Wake up for a whole five minutes as G comes in from work and J barks her head off. 10am: Actually feel more human now. Stumble downstairs and make myself a huge mug of tea and have a mince pie for breakfast (my absolute favourite Christmas treat). 10.15am: Start painting our main bedroom! We’ve just renovated and had it all newly plastered. It’s beginning to feel quite urgent as we need it to be finished asap as we have a friend, A, staying with us for a week over Christmas (we are his support bubble).1pm: My least favourite part of DIY is all the cleaning up afterward. Paint-free, I head into the city to pick up a bouquet of flowers I’ve ordered from a family-run florist. It’s been a year since G’s mum passed away and I think she would approve of some beautiful flowers in our new home. Total is £25 minus £5 Amex shop local cashback so my share is £10. Decide to grab some extra paint on the way home too. My share: £ Warm up some leftover duck stew for lunch while dialling into a work meeting I desperately needed to attend and couldn’t excuse myself from regardless of being on holiday. Oh the joys of working from home. 3.30pm: Read a book and accidentally take a nap.5.30pm: G is up and we cook and have dinner together: soups and some garlic bread. He helps me to lift all the radiators back onto their brackets and now I just need to remember how to connect and fill them properly…7.30pm: G heads off to work and I get on my painting clothes and prepare myself for another couple of hours of painting and dancing along to some tunes! 11pm: Absolutely exhausted, head to bed. Do some meditation using Headspace and fall asleep. Total: £23.50Day Three8am: J barks as G comes home from work, which is much more effective than my alarm. Quickly get up and clean up all the rooms which the electricians are going to be working in. 8.30am: Electricians arrive while I’m having a cup of tea for breakfast. Pop out to the shop and grab some milk and a new shower hose cable from Lidl. My share: £3.58.9am: Call our gym and book a spa evening so we can use the jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. Do a small dog training session to reinforce what J learned in our last obedience class. 10am: Our electricians arrive and finish off the last portion of agreed work. We finally have all our sockets on the walls and dimmer lights in the living room – significant progress!12.30pm: G is meant to have online academic training but after the night shift, he is really struggling. I make some fresh soup and bring it up to him in the study to find him sound asleep. Cover him with some blankets and log him out of the training. Eat my soup while I book J into another obedience class for next week. I’m becoming increasingly concerned by the COVID numbers and want to make sure that J is as socialised as possible ahead of any additional local lockdowns. 2pm: Starting to plan my Christmas present for my grandma. I am so disappointed not to be spending any time with her this year at Christmas. We have agreed that we are going to exchange gifts when we can finally see each other. I am grateful for the extra time to pull together a homemade gift for her, as I would really like it to be something special. 4pm: All my creative brain cells have been completely exhausted. Wake G up and go to the spa for a relaxing evening of pampering.6pm: Home and dinner. We cook a stir fry full of veggies and settle down on the sofa to eat, chat and watch the final episodes of Hustle. 10pm: Head to bed and decide to have a much-needed lie-in tomorrow. Total: £3.58Day Four9am: Wake up, have a cereal bar and this reminds me that we need to head to the shops and replenish some of our cupboard foods. As our friend A is arriving tonight we also want to get some mixers to enjoy with our festive drinkies!10am: Visit the local wholesale food store – no card or entrance card required. We buy a lot of our cupboard food and snack food for work lunches from here. I’m still trying to convince myself that buying in bulk savings are worth the cupboard space. We buy buttermilk Easter eggs, multigrain bars, tomato and chilli sauces, mini Flumps, Schweppes diet tonic, Radnor forest fruit drinks, Pret sparkling grape and elderflower drinks, Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut granola and Larabar banana chocolate chip bars! The total comes to £36. I calculate how much this would cost if we bought how we normally shop and it would have cost us £123.60. The cupboards might be full but I think the savings are totally worth it! My share: £18. 11am: Pick up a wardrobe being given away for free on Olio. Looks like a great upcycling project and will be perfect for our guest room.12pm: Take J out for a run around in the local park. Thrilled to have some very positive interactions with other dogs, bikes and humans. Small progress is still progress. 2pm: Start the long and difficult process of rearranging all the furniture. With A coming tonight, we need to move our bed out of the study and into the main bedroom which now has lights and working sockets.5pm: Watch the announcement from BoJo about the Christmas bubble period being cancelled and the movement of regions into tier 4. Cry for two minutes before deciding I have wasted enough of my tears on COVID. Realise that although A is based in an area about to become tier 4, he is on a train and only about 30 minutes away. Attempt to understand the rules and come to the conclusion that as we are his support bubble, this is still okay. 6pm: Student brother, D, calls me and explains that Wales will be heading into tier 4. He missed the original student cut-off dates and we weren’t expecting him until the Christmas bubble period. He has been really struggling with his mental health and asks if I can come and collect him so he can be with family (thankfully also allowed as students are allowed to return home). Leave almost immediately after G has made me a strong coffee and packed me some snacks for the road. Leave G with A who has just arrived and head to get some fuel. My share for pay @ pump: £17.27.9pm: Stop at a service station for some more coffee and a quick break. D treats me as a thank you for collecting him. 11.30pm: Arriving home after a four-hour trip is so incredibly satisfying! Have a cup of tea, cuddle J and very promptly fall asleep. Total: £35.27Day Five10am: Everyone agreed to have a lie-in this morning! Wake up and make a huge batch of coffee for everyone to grab when they are up. Cuddle with G in bed until we hear that A and D are beginning to wake up. 11am: Lazy breakfast of cereal for everyone and start thinking towards Christmas. As we have been renovating the house recently, we haven’t got much storage space and had chosen not to get a tree or any decorations. Given the new restrictions, we’ve realised that we won’t be able to go and see our family over this period. Decide we should go on a hunt for some Christmas decorations and set about searching Facebook Marketplace for anything which might work. Find three people donating old decorations and trees and decide to go pick them up. 12pm: As we’ve just had breakfast, we have a quick salmon salad for lunch before all taking it in turns to shower and get ready for the day. 1pm: Leave for various FB Marketplace pick-up points and fill my car with everything we have collected. Very grateful to those who had these items listed for those whose plans had been affected by COVID. This means an incredible amount to us. 2pm: Stop at Dunelm on the way back to get some curtains and curtain rails for our living room. My share: £26.13. Collect our Christmas present for J, a dog Barbour coat. Her birthday is Christmas Eve so she is suitably spoiled this time of year. We spend so much time hiking and the coat was such a good fit, we just couldn’t say no! 3pm: Christmas music on and the decorations are being put up. Start having a few glasses of wine while getting out some games and organising quizzes for this evening. 6.30pm: I cook a veggie Thai green curry for dinner. It feels amazing to relax with everyone after some very stressful weeks. 8pm: Time for some drinks, quizzes and games. 11pm: May have stumbled up the stairs on my way to bed!Total: £26.13Day Six8am: Don’t even hear G leave for work this morning. Very doubtful that anyone else will be awake for some time. Have a cereal bar alongside a huge coffee before settling down to listen to my Audible book. Take J out for a morning walk and practise some dog training.10am: A and D begin to surface and I decide to do the last supermarket shop ahead of Christmas. Thankfully there are no queues and I quickly do the rounds and collect everything we need. Parsnips, courgettes, potatoes, aubergine, Brussels sprouts, carrots, spinach, leeks, mushrooms, peppers, veggie burgers, cranberry sauce, brioche burger buns, camembert, sausage rolls, stuffing, chicken, toilet paper, kitchen roll. My share: £11.17.12pm: Home, food unpacked and meal plan for the next few days is all prepped. We decided that we would take it in turns to alternate cooking for the next few nights – phew!1pm: Make some cheese and ham toasties for lunch. Spend a while chatting and really catching up on everything that has been going on for the last few months. Talk everything from politics and concern for the Brexit deal to supermarket differences in Wales and England. 2.30pm: Both A and D are booked into local barbers for some much-needed haircuts. D can barely see and A has his hair currently covering both eyes! Walk down to the local high street and drop them off. Finish with a coffee and a catch-up at a local coffee place which I have been dying to try. My share comes to £2.05. 5pm: Start prepping the lasagne with A and D. This is the meal that A is cooking for us all. We are trying to organise meals so that G can eat immediately after coming home from work. It means so much to me that they both know how difficult this type of shift work can be and are being so accommodating in our schedules, even when it means we eat late in the evening!7pm: Start playing a board game A has brought with him called Catan. It appears that there are many rules and yet we still seem to be confused!11pm: Head to bed and do some Headspace before I fall asleep. Total: £13.22Day Seven6.30am: Woken up as G gets up and starts getting ready for his shift. Decide I can definitely not cope with getting up this early and procrastinate online, reading the news and then listening to my last Audible book. 8am: Start the day with a ‘kiddie breakfast’ of potato waffles alongside baked beans. One of my favourite easy breakfasts. Realise I’ll probably need the energy today as have a long drive ahead of me to see my parents and am not planning on having any food while out. 8.30am: Finish off my Christmas present for D: homemade cushion covers. Wake up A and D, who wake up slowly, and prepare them for the timings which I’ve agreed with my parents. Clean the house and pack any leftover presents for that side of my family into the car. 10.30am: Finally we are all ready. Jump in the car and only 15 minutes into the drive, the air pressure sensor in one of my tyres alerts me to some depressurisation! Stop at a supermarket fuel station and test the pressures…all looks fine. Reset the tyre sensor and hope it doesn’t ping again. 1pm: Arrive and unpack all the Christmas presents from the car into the porch for my parents to collect. All five of us (plus J, of course) head for a quick socially distanced walk to catch up and hopefully have everything feel more like Christmas! End up having a takeaway Cornish pasty and coffee in town – parents treat us.3pm: Back in the car and heading for home. Everyone is clearly exhausted as I have two very sleepy passengers. Focus the radio speakers to my seat and turn the radio up so I can keep awake in the pouring rain. 6.30pm: Electrician pops round to get some more information for a quote on installing some storage space in our loft and laying some flooring and skirting boards. Seems like it will be straightforward enough which I am super pleased to hear. Watch A and D play on the Nintendo Switch for a while and end up taking a nap. 8pm: D calls me to the table just as G walks through the door. Dinner is ready: brioche veggie burgers alongside baked camembert. All credit to D as it is his turn to cook and it is divine. 9pm: Settle down with a glass of wine to play Heads Up! and have a small game night.10.30pm: I have done abysmally at the game night, confirming that it is indeed time for bed. Total: £0The BreakdownFood & Drink: £31.22Entertainment: £0Clothes & Beauty: £0Transportation: £17.27Other: £62.75Total: £111.24Conclusion”This was a very strange week, especially given the increase of some areas to tier 4 and the cancellation of the five-day Christmas period. Normally in the build-up to Christmas I think I would definitely have spent more than I did this week. I’m very grateful to have had the time to make all my Christmas presents this year and am going to try and make time for this in future years too! It was quite insightful to see how frequently I buy small things to furnish the house and I think going forward I’m going to keep track of these, not necessarily to cut back but mainly to be aware. I’m also definitely going to be shopping more at our local wholesalers and trying to save money in this way. It worked fantastically over Christmas and we always had snacks or nibbles available for guests, which is perfect when you unexpectedly have four people!” Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Money Diary: A 25-Year-Old Radiographer On 31kMoney Diary: A Consultant In Solihull On 38kMoney Diary: A Finance Officer & Lash Technician

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