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 newly minted university metalwork technician. After years of getting used to my old workshop and feeling pretty comfortable there, I’ve just moved to a new part of the university and have new things to learn – it’s a bit daunting! I’m definitely feeling a bit of imposter syndrome but trying to work through it and learn as much as I can this summer before the start of term hits. I live with my boyfriend J in southwest Edinburgh near the canal. We bought our flat five years ago and it’s been amazing but we’re starting to feel a bit cramped (I dream of a garden, and a kitchen with a window), so our longish-term plan is to move out to East Lothian. We’re hoping to save about £10k before then to finance the move, and think that’ll take about two years. In the meantime, I’m trying to balance saving with enjoying living in the city and seeing my friends, as well as getting out at the weekends to various parts of Scotland." Industry: Metalwork/Education Age: 31 Location: Edinburgh Salary: £27,830 Paycheque amount: £1,689 Number of housemates: 1 boyfriend (J) Monthly Expenses Housing costs: Mortgage £514.03, council tax £153, both split between two. Loan payments: Student loan (comes straight from my paycheque) £43ish. Utilities: Gas £19.45, electricity £65 (split). Transportation: Car insurance £58.02 (split), no other regular costs as I cycle or walk to and from work. Phone bill: £17.42 Savings? I try to put away between £200-£300 per month, depending on other expenses. Other: TV licence £11.50, Home insurance £34.98, Spotify £14.99, Netflix £5.99 (all split). Day One
7.30am: Alarm goes off, doze for a bit while J gets up to shower. I was off work yesterday with horrendous period cramps and I’ve woken up without them so I bask in the feeling of not being in pain while J makes avocado on homemade sourdough for breakfast (we are parodies of ourselves sometimes, but it’s delicious).
It’s absolutely gorgeous outside so I decide to leave a bit early to walk to work and enjoy the weather. Fifteen minutes in, remember that I am rubbish at hot weather and I’m already horribly sweaty. Just the right time to start working somewhere with full coverage overalls and a forge…
9am: Coffee! My coworkers in the workshop next door have an espresso machine, which is an absolute lifesaver (pocketsaver?) when you drink as much coffee as me. It means my only coffee expense is a fortnightly carton of oat milk since we buy the beans with money we get from recycling scrap metal.
10.40am: A TINY DOG COMES IN. I have a big double door that opens onto the street and it trots in to say hello. Message J immediately. Most of our messages to each other are about dogs, or are pictures of dogs that we have seen. After the excitement of the tiny dog I need a cup of coffee. I’m out of oat milk so pop round the corner to Sainsbury’s to get some, as well as some French onion soup and a roll for my lunch. £3.65
12.30pm: Eat my soup and my roll (uninspiring), then head out to sit in the sun until the end of lunch (glorious).
A student has asked me to help him CNC plasma cut 70 aluminium parts for a research project so suddenly my afternoon is looking pretty full. This machine is 8x bigger than the little baby one I used at my old workshop so it's a learning curve. Spend quite a lot of time on the phone to a lovely tech support guy, who tells me that I can solve most of my problems by switching it off and on again. Some things are universal. Get about 25 parts cut, so that’ll be tomorrow full as well.
4pm: Drink the remainder of my cold coffee from this morning. Gross, I know, but it’s too busy for me to pop next door for a new one. If I pretend it’s an iced coffee it goes down much easier. Mmm.
4.55pm: Close up shop and get on my bike – I left it here earlier in the week when I went home sick. I stop at our local community greengrocer for something to go with tonight’s dinner. It’s a little more expensive than a supermarket but a lot of the produce is locally grown, plus no plastic packaging, so we try to get most of our fresh veg from here. Get broccoli, but as always can't resist the siren call of treats. Get a delicious-looking peach and some jalapeño and cheddar quinoa puffs which are like spicy vegan Wotsits and are amazing. £3.39. Also stop by the corner shop near our flat to get a few beers for watching the football. £5.35 (both from the joint account).
7.40pm: Dinner of leftover lentil shepherd's pie and broccoli, then J and I kick back with our beers to watch the footie. J is English so I should really be cheering England but I'm secretly rooting for Norway. Go team!
10pm: England were actually so good I did end up cheering for them. Eng-er-land! Make a cup of herb tea, then head to bed to read for a bit – it’s still so bright outside that we can read without the lights on! I love this time of year.
Total: £8.03 Day Two
7.30am: It's payday! Sit in bed and transfer money around with my banking app. I like to do it as soon as I get paid to make sure I've got a good idea of my budget for the month. This is the first month of my new salary, but I also have a new pension scheme which takes a much higher percentage of my paycheque so the difference isn't huge even though I’ve had a £3k pay rise. Transfer £950 into the joint account for mortgage, bills, food shopping etc, £200 into savings and £150 to pay off my credit card. This leaves me with £380 for myself for the month. Pay J for Sleater-Kinney tickets he bought for us last month. £30
8.30am: Leave to walk to work; sadly the weather is now the classic Edinburgh summer combo of grey skies and freezing wind. Scotland giveth and it taketh away. Coffee and plasma cutting are go as soon as I get in; luckily for me the bossman drops by to give me a few pointers on some things that I’ve been having issues with.
10.30am: Even with the helpful advice, cutting thin aluminium like this is a horrible, finicky and fumey business. Pause for coffee and a bit of fresh air, and use the time to buy J and I some gig tickets for Sunn O))) and Melt Banana. They’re both for October but I think they might sell out so getting them early! £93.19 (ooft) from the joint account.
12pm: I’ve run out of aluminium to cut and I’ll be glad to see the back of the horrible stuff. Feeling a bit sick, probably the lack of breakfast + too much coffee. Watch some videos of rats being adorable on Facebook and decide to wander a bit further afield for lunch. It’s sunny again, hooray!
End up at Barburrito and get a rainbow burrito (yet another company hopping on the cynical Pride marketing bandwagon, but it's delicious so I'm not too mad) and an Irn Bru. The nice man at the till gives me a student discount even though I only have a staff card, but they do charge extra for guacamole. Outrageous. Who has a burrito without guacamole?! £8.68
1pm: Pop out to the grassy quad to sit in the sun and chat to a couple of colleagues I find basking out there. We discuss how much warmer it needs to get in the workshops before we all start cutting the legs off our overalls to make romper suits (the answer is most of us are already considering it).
Post-lunch I only have a couple of fabrication jobs to do for other colleagues which take me about an hour. Help a student cut and bend some bits of brass, then everyone starts to drift home at about 4pm so I follow suit and am out the door by 4.30.
Wander down to Princes St and look half-heartedly in a few shops but it's too warm and there are too many people. Buy a shampoo bar from Lush (Jumping Juniper, smells like a lemon sherbet). £8 which is expensive but they last for AGES, this is the first one I've bought in about six months.
5.30pm: Jump on a bus as I need to go to Waitrose for tonight's dinner. J has a craving for Linda McCartney's 'duck' pancakes and it's the only place I can get them. Pick up veggies while I'm there since I'm feeling too lazy to make the journey back to the greengrocer. £1.70 for the bus (prepaid on my app), £9.72 onto the joint account for dinner stuff.
Get home, dump the shopping, get changed out of my grotty work clothes and try to rub most of the grime off my face. Payday date night! Meet J at our local, which is about three minutes from our flat. Only end up staying for one pint but most importantly we see a dog and it is excellent. £4.70
8pm: Eat the pancakes, then cap off our wild Friday night with more football and an episode of
Killing Eve. Total: £102.84 Day Three
8.30am: Wake up and snuggle in bed for a bit. J gets up to make us beans on toast while I get ready – I like to wear a bit more makeup on my days off since I'm generally so grubby during the week, so I do some winged eyeliner and manage to get them pretty much even on my first try; an excellent omen for the day ahead.
10am: Head out on the bus to visit some pals and their baby. Baby has definitely become a toddler since we last saw him, and is charging about everywhere at top speed. If I’d just learned how to use my legs I would be doing the same. We spend the morning catching him before he bashes his little noggin into tables, then wander through the park in the sun to the Sculpture Workshop café for a soy latte and a slice of date and ginger cake (YUM). £4 for a day bus ticket on my app, £8.30 for two coffees and a cake.
12pm: Say bye to baby and head to The Pitt, a street food market tucked away in an industrial estate in Leith – it’s the type of place you’d usually find in the trendier parts of London and I’m really glad to see places like this springing up here. It’s buzzing and the sun is shining and we meet some friends and get merrily drunk and well fed on Aperol, pizza and crab+chips. I buy a pint and the crab, £12, then J pays for everything else. £???
4pm: The Pitt is starting to get uncomfortably full and loud and (oh god) the ubiquitous Man Playing Acoustic Covers has started. Abort, abort!
Head to a nearby brewery tap room which is a lot more relaxed. Bump into another pal who introduces us to her dog Peach. Drink more beers. Peach licks my hand (#blessed).
According to my Gpay app I spent £4 here but this means J definitely picked up the slack in the beers department.
6pm: Bus it home, order takeaway and watch Stormzy and the Chemical Brothers at Glastonbury. The takeaway takes almost two hours to arrive but somehow my crab and chips from earlier has sustained me and I'm not furious! £21 but Deliveroo gives us £5 credit because it was so late.
More Glastonbury! The FOMO is real.
1am: Run out of steam midway through Sheryl Crow – drag ourselves from sofa to bed.
Total: £44.30 Day Four
11am: Wake up and despite an epically long sleep I'm feeling pretty grotty. Probably a combination of hangover and low-level anxiety, which seems to have come on for no reason. Bleh. Vegetate in bed for a while and listen to J being productive making bread; feel generally like a bit of a sad sack.
Don't feel much like eating anything so J and I head out to Tesco to do our monthly essentials shop. We generally do one big shop every month to stock up on stuff like pasta, grains and tinned bits and bobs, then top it up during the month with fresh veggies. This month's 'essentials' includes a bottle of Laphroaig among the usual tinned tomatoes, chickpeas and toothpaste so it's a bit pricier than usual. £115.77 on the joint card.
2pm: Eat some curry super noodles I picked up at Tesco – the ultimate comfort food! The taste always reminds me of dinners while camping with my mum and dad.
I decide that we need to get outside to avoid falling into lethargic comas for the afternoon. A couple of months ago we spent just over £4,000 on a secondhand Corsa, so we’ve been trying to make as much use of it as we can to get out and about near Edinburgh. It only takes us 40 minutes from our flat to drive out to Aberlady Nature Reserve, to hopefully get sand blown in our faces and maybe spot some birds.
We're treated to a young roe deer, tiny tiny froglets, a neon yellow moth and loads of wading birds! The promised rain doesn't appear and instead there is gorgeous sunshine and a clear view back to Edinburgh. My mood has improved considerably, and I’m glad we made the trip out. I’m becoming a bit cemented in the idea that I want to live here or somewhere like it – there’s something about the smell of salt in the air that’s good for the soul.
6pm: Very tasty dinner of mango tofu curry with roasted cauliflower and radishes. It’s a new recipe and I manage to cover myself with puréed mango in classic sitcom style when the blender explodes, but otherwise pretty successful.
Wander along the canal to the cinema to see
Toy Story 4. It's a solid fourth best of all the Toy Story films but the animation is incredible. J gets the tickets, I get the drinks. We sneak in a sharing bag of crisps from home and scoff the lot. £8 Total: £65.89 Day Five
7.30am: My alarm goes off but I don’t manage to drag myself out of bed until 8.15. Despite general laziness, I’m feeling much better than yesterday. I consider myself really lucky that my low moods don’t often last longer than a day or two. Get on my bike to work since I haven’t left enough time to walk, then spend a bit of time making coffee and chatting to colleagues before I get suited and booted for the day.
10am: J messages me that he is buying a new hoodie from Rapanui and asks if I want anything so we can combine delivery costs. I link him to a black T-shirt dress I’ve been looking at and transfer him £15 for it. It’s surprisingly hard to shop ethically if you’re not all about hemp and khaki and trousers that look like they could double as a two-person tent (definitely not knocking that aesthetic, it’s just not for me!) but Rapanui is really nice for plain separates and pretty affordable; if it branches out into leggings I’ll be set for life. I do a lot of my clothes shopping at charity shops, but sometimes I really want something shiny and new and just for me.
I've seen neither hide nor hair of any students this morning, so use the time to do some cleaning and maintenance on a few machines, as well as watching YouTube videos for a couple of tools I haven’t used before. YouTube is honestly the holy grail for any technician – quite a lot of instruction manuals leave a lot to the imagination and I have a huge YouTube playlist of helpful tips and pointers for the workshop. By the time I’ve watched a rather dry 40-minute video about TIG welding, it’s lunchtime.
12.30pm: I brought in some lentil soup but I’m absolutely starving (lack of breakfast catching up with me as usual) so I pop out to get a sandwich to go with it, £2.50. Head to the quad to soak up the sunshine while I still can – I’m probably burning to a crisp but I can’t bring myself to care. At any time the sun could bugger off for the year, so I have to make the most of it while I can.
5pm: Run home to grab my skates and head to the skate park! A local
Chicks in Bowls group has set up a Monday night session which includes some coaching. I've been skating for five years but only ever on a flat surface so I feel like I need the encouragement of other newbies and someone to show me what to do. Pay £9 for two hours when I get there and £1.60 for a Lucozade Sport since I forgot my water bottle. It's so much fun – I'm completely unused to feeling so wobbly on skates but I manage to drop into the bowl a few times and do some small jumps and some carving *sunglasses emoji*. I bump into a few familiar faces – the Edinburgh skate community is a small world – and get some good coaching from some tiny fearless girls. I also learn not to wear leggings to a skate park made of plywood – I have many, many splinters in my bum by the end. Denim is key, apparently. I’ll wear my jean shorts when I’m back next week. £3.40 for the bus there and back.
8pm: Get home, scoff last night’s leftover curry and jump in the shower. J is at dinner with a client, so I make myself a cup of herb tea and read until it’s time for bed. I’m rereading
Good Omens after watching the TV adaptation and enjoying it immensely. Total: £31.50 Day Six
8.40am: Bike into work today since as usual I lazed about too much to leave enough time to walk. Get angrily beeped at for some unknown offence, probably existing on the road? I do understand that there are arseholes everywhere, including on bikes, but it does make me really sad when people get so angry at me for just being on the road, slightly inconveniencing them for a few seconds before they can pass me. I try not to let it get to me, but I’m pretty non-confrontational and it does always leave me feeling a bit shaken when someone is so aggressive about it.
Get into work, make a coffee and have a rant to my coworkers about dickheads being dickheads.
10am: I have my annual review, but because I’m so new to the job it’s more of a chat with my boss about how things are going and how I’m expecting the year to pan out. I chat through some of my fears about not being qualified enough for the job and feeling out of my depth. Bossman does a decent job of dispelling some of my worries but I expect I’ll feel this for quite a while until I get a bit more settled.
Back to work, and I fire the forge up to help a colleague make a holder for a casting crucible. We make a decent job of it and I get to do my all-time favourite thing: heating things up and bashing them with a hammer! It’s a classic for a reason.
12.30pm: Lentil and vegetable soup and an apple (Pink Lady, what a treat) for lunch – head to the workshop next door to eat it and get roped into a game of darts. I get roundly trounced; I really need to get some practice in as most of my darts hit the floor or the surrounding wall. Sad times.
My afternoon is pretty quiet. Put an order of tools together to stock up for the new term and listen to some more Glastonbury coverage on the radio until home time.
5pm: Feeling really stiff and achey after my skate session yesterday (hello, muscles I haven't used in ages) so I cycle a longer way home to try to stretch my legs a bit. I'm craving something simple for dinner so I make spaghetti with a tomato, onion and green olive sauce and J picks up some garlic bread. We eat it on the sofa and watch England getting knocked out of the World Cup.
10.30pm: Muscles have totally seized after sitting still for so long, oops. Limp awkwardly to bed.
Total: £0 Day Seven
7.30am: Drag myself up and at 'em and make a pot of coffee while J showers. I’ve been getting a bit too hungry before lunch the last couple of days, so I make the effort to have some breakfast. Open my packet of tattie scones only to find out they’ve gone mouldy two days before the sell-by date! Noooo. That’s what I get for buying 'Irish potato cakes' instead of proper tattie scones (Tesco was sold out of the good stuff). Sadly make myself some oatcakes and jam instead. I dislike most breakfast foods so finding something I want to eat in the morning is always a bit of a chore; it’s the reason I usually just stick with coffee.
Even though I got out of bed almost 45 minutes before I usually do, I still manage to leave it too late to walk – though it’s maybe a good thing as my legs are still pretty stiff. I do remember to get my lunch out of the fridge though, success!
9.30am: I spend a bit of time browsing grind blocks online to work out which ones I’ll need for my skates. It's a little plastic part you can add on to allow you to stop and slide easily on the coping (the metal part on the edge of ramps and bowls). I find some that are on sale since they’re being discontinued, and email the skate shop to ask if they have my size.
10am: Eighty sheets of plywood arrive that need to be moved around the building. Quite a lot of my job during the summer involves picking up heavy stuff and moving it around, which I don’t mind. It’s nice to just do some good old lifting and moving sometimes, plus wood is a breeze compared to steel deliveries. I’m pushing a fully laden trolley with another female technician and, as always, some guy off the street comes to 'help' us without asking and shoves the trolley into a wall, then blames the steering. Thanks, random dude, we couldn’t have fucked it up without you!
12.30pm: Leftover spaghetti and my last apple for lunch. I get beaten into the dust at darts again but by about 200 points less than last time, so I’m counting that as a win.
Spend the afternoon doing some plasma cutting and welding – have a bit of a panic when the building gets cleared for a fire alarm but it turns out it was something in the café and we get sent back in fairly quickly. Phew. I always feel like people are looking pointedly in my direction during fire evacuations. It wasn’t me!
Skate shop emails me back to say they’re out of stock of the cheap grind blocks so I’ll have to suck it up and buy them full price. They’re almost £100 (for a bit of metal and plastic!) so I’ll wait until the end of the month to get them.
5pm: I'm meeting J at the pub after work. Stop on the way to get some tenderstem broccoli and an onion to go with tea, and a packet of Kettle Chips to preemptively soak up the beer. £4.69 on the joint account.
We're really spoilt for choice in terms of excellent pubs near us; it's something J and I will both really miss if we move out of the city. Decide to head to a bar near work that specialises in Belgian beers; I'm a sucker for all the sour ones that taste like balsamic vinegar. The lovely woman behind the bar recognises me and remembers my beer preferences, which probably means I'm here too often, but she does recommend something very tasty so it's a win really. £4.40
7.30pm: Heck Super Green sausages for tea with mustard mash, cauliflower, broccoli and onion gravy, and we watch the newest episode of
Gentleman Jack. WWALD (What Would Anne Lister Do?) is going to be my new life mantra: I, too, would like my own theme song to play behind me as I stride around purposefully dispensing justice.
Make a cup of herb tea, then head to bed to read.
Total: £6.75 The Breakdown
Entertainment: £85.60 Clothes/Beauty: £15 Travel: £7.40 Other: £0 Total: £259.31 Conclusion
"This was probably a bit of a spendy week for me since payday came in the middle of it and we did the big shop, but I don’t think it’s an unusual spread of spending. I knew that most of my outgoings were on food and drink because I do like to head to the pub or out for food when I can and it definitely adds up. Saying that, it’s part of what I enjoy about living in the city and being near friends. Since we’re planning on a move in the next few years I want to get the most out of where we live now. Since I’m still meeting my saving targets I feel pretty okay about all the beer money!
One thing I did notice from looking over the week is how much better I could be about making breakfast and preparing my lunches in the morning – it happens sometimes but not always and I should probably just get up when my alarm goes off rather than lounging about in bed for ages then rushing to get to work on time."
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