Occupation: Freelance Graphic Designer/Writer
Describe your spending habits/attitude to money in a few sentences: A few months of unemployment after an undergraduate degree can really shake you out of some unhealthy spending habits, so I’ve been careful with money for the last couple of years while doing a part-time Masters – mainly out of a low income job and a lack of family support. Still, I’ve been trying to reign in my spending on food, and I buy more games and audiobooks than I probably should.
Income per month
Earnings (minus tax): £1500 (on average)
Student loan/bursary: £178 (averaged out)
Regular spending per month
Utilities: £35 (Internet, others included in rent)
Other spending e.g. gym, netflix, childcare: £8 Netflix, £8 Audible, £5 Spotify Premium, £73 Council Tax, £16 Website hosting, £16 Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription
Loan Payback: £0
Leftover to spend: £947
6:00: Up early today, because I have a job interview in London. I escape the judgement of this money diary by booking travel in advance, but for the purposes of shaming, yes, I did book a cheap Megabus before bailing the night before and booking a more expensive train ticket. I can’t cope with getting to Meadowhall for 8AM.
On the way to the station, I realise I have forgotten my £3 meal deal purchased for the journey the night before. Bugger. I go and buy another one, plus an iced coffee and a croissant for breakfast on the train. £4.75.
8:51: My train sets off towards Doncaster, where I will change for Kings Cross. While on the first leg, I overhear the posh lady next to me on the phone: “Yes, and how long will the Archbishop be able to spare for the meeting?” I assume she is heading to York, unless there’s an Archbishop of Donny.
11:15: We arrive at King’s Cross and I studiously swerve the Harry Potter trolley to avoid being run down by tweens. My interview isn’t for a few hours, so out of boredom I get the tube to Holborn. £7 (for the day’s Tube travel).
12:00: I sit down to eat my meal deal in the cafe of the LSE Students’ Union, feeling like an imposter for using their loos and Eduroam. I check out their student paper, which isn’t as good as Forge.
12:30: Walk over to Covent Garden, where I poke around cobbled streets and pleasant shops. I pick up a couple of pens from Muji and a box of Moomin-branded tea for my girlfriend as souvenirs. £3 for the pens, £7.99 for the tea.
13:30: I walk from Covent Garden down through Whitehall to the Houses of Parliament. It’s a Friday, so nobody interesting is there, but I see UKIP leader Gerard Batten in Westminster tube station. He is on a separate escalator, but our eyes meet and I give him the appropriate glare. That’ll show ‘em.
14:45: I blow the interview. It was only for a two month contract, not a permanent job, but still annoying.
16:00: After killing time for a bit longer, I meet M, an old university friend, in the Wetherspoons at St. Pancras station. To commiserate, I order fish and chips with a brownie for pudding, at inflated Station Spoons prices. £13.70.
19:54: I board my train back at King’s Cross, disappointed but having at least had a fun day out. To fortify myself for the journey I buy a Pret filter coffee. 99p.
23:00: After a delay in Doncaster, I arrive back in Sheffield and catch the tram back home – sod walking. £1.80.
8:30: Get up from a lie-in after yesterday’s trip. I make toast with honey, as I’m out of milk and want to hold on until the next Tesco delivery arrives. I make a cafetiere coffee and take it relatively easy.
10:00: Arrive at the IC and fiddle with a novel draft that will obviously never happen. The 30,000 word roadblock is a fearsome enemy. I do manage an hour’s work for a client, and eat the meal deal I forgot to take to London (Katsu wrap, pineapple and an Innocent smoothie). +£20.
12:30: My friend C is in town, so we go to Coffee Revs for a catch up as I haven’t seen him in about a year. He’s buying a house now. I feel unaccomplished and small. £6.00
Total: +£13.30 £6.00
8:30: Can’t be bothered to make breakfast today as I’ve run out of both bread and milk – and porridge with water is horrible. Instead I buy an orange juice and a croissant from Sainsburys. £1.70.
9:00: I am trying to take the day off work, but I go to the library to get out of the house and read for a bit. The book is about why Americans are so into conspiracy theories. I think lizard people did it.
13:00: Trying to not work for a day is driving me insane with boredom. How do you people just not do stuff for a whole 24 hours? I make a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, then go for an aimless walk and end up sitting in Bar One with a different book for a while. I buy a Diet Coke. £1.35.
18:00: After killing more time, I head home in time for my Tesco delivery, which I do fortnightly to save on food. It’s quite a haul and I run out of freezer space. I have about three days to make and eat about a litre of smoothies before my frozen fruit goes bad in the fridge. I put these shops on my credit card before paying them off at the end of the month in an attempt to build up my credit rating, because I live life on the wild side. £49.82.
19:00: The first dinner of the new delivery – I make macaroni cheese which will probably last for two meals.
7:30: Back into the normal routine at last now my cereal stocks are replenished. I have own-brand Shreddies and a cafetiere coffee. My weight-loss attempts since Christmas seem to be finally working. I weight myself weekly and find I’ve lost about two pounds since last week.
9:00: Back in the creative flow after my day off – apparently this ‘relaxation’ thing does work quite well. Three hours of design work flies by. +£60.
12:30: I take a break to pick up my girlfriend from the station, since she’s been home for a few days post-exams. We get the tram up and go for a drink in Interval, where I buy her lunch. Lunch: £5.85, Tram: £1.80.
13:30: A new client has agreed to my quote for a booklet design. It makes up for losing my library seat and having to use one of the uncomfortable Diamond armchair-booths. +£175.
16:45: I get home early after getting bored with work (an understated bonus of freelance work) and do an hour on my exercise bike before making dinner (a breaded chicken steak with rice, broccoli and green beans).
19:00: There’s a lot of evening to fill, isn’t there? I’m out of audiobooks to listen to so I buy a three-credit pack from Audible. £18.
7:00: Wake up, and make breakfast (knock-off Tesco Weetabix). I make an instant coffee because I’m too lazy to clean the cafetiere after making nice stuff. It gets the job done. I remember I have a fancy-dress party next week and order a sailor’s hat from Amazon. It is extortionate. £18.95.
8:30: Leave the house and do three hours’ design work in the IC. This should be exciting and creative, but it’s the seventh Twitter banner I’ve made for this client in as many days, so it’s difficult to get the creative juices flowing. While I work, I listen to synthwave videos on YouTube, because I enjoy feeling like a hacker in a 90s film. +£60.
12:00: Check my bank balance out of habit, and find an invoice from a couple of weeks ago has been paid. That deserves an early lunch. +£350.
12:15: I live close enough to the library that I can’t justify yet another meal deal, so I go home and make lunch (toast with tomato soup). I bulk-bought 12 tins of soup to get a previous Tesco delivery up to the £40 mark, and this is the first one I’ve actually eaten.
Afterwards I decide to stay home- it’s exam season so libraries are full- and do some dissertation reading for a couple of hours.
14:30: I go into town to meet an old friend who’s around for a job interview. I’m also aiming to buy a coat for the costume party, but I realise I already have one which will do the job. While I’m waiting, I find a nice thick turtleneck jumper discounted from £30 to £10 and decide to treat myself. £10.
15:45: My friend and I go to The Harley for a burger and a catch up. I’m very grateful when he pays. Later, it occurs he makes about twice as much money as me, so maybe that’s only fair.
8:15: Leave for a meeting at Hunter’s Bar and decide to walk rather than get the bus, since I discover they cancelled the service that used to go that way.
10:30: Post-meeting I decide to work from home for the rest of the morning to save money on lunch. I finish off a small commission and send it to one client, before trying to come up with some social media content for another. +£32.
I stick with it until lunch (porridge with honey) and head out to the SU to meet my girlfriend for some board games, and I buy us each a coffee and cake. £7.94.
16:30: Once we finish up, I go back home and make dinner again (turkey steaks with baked potatoes and green beans). It’s surprisingly easy when you’ve got a decent stock of food, although for most of my undergraduate life this wasn’t something I easily grasped.
Total: +£24.06 £7.94
8:30: In an attempt to coerce myself into a productive day, I buy a zero-calorie energy drink on my way to the Diamond, which I soon come to regret. At least with the end of exams, the building is completely dead, so I can actually get my work done. £1.40.
12:30: I go to my old flat to pick up some stuff I apparently left behind. On the way back up I get another meal deal (it’s all about the mayonnaise-free Katsu wrap) to suppress my hunger. £3.
17:30: I get home and am tempted to order food, but I must be strong. Instead, I make pasta and quorn meatballs with a homemade sauce.
I go and spend the evening working in the IC, finishing off a batch of social media content. +£24.
I finish the night by buying a new Switch game which is heavily discounted on the online store. £1.89.
Entertainment and Nights Out: £19.89
Opinion at the end of the week:
This was an unusually successful week, to put it mildly, which means it’s difficult to assess it on its own. I feel relatively well-off, which means I need to avoid getting into bad habits for stretches where I’m making less money. Since I started getting regular Tesco deliveries I’ve found I eat better and save a lot on food, but it’s not always easy to plan out in advance what I’ll need. The difficulty with being freelance is that you’re not guaranteed a stable income, but I think I’ve managed to make it work so far.