Money diary of a Marketing Executive working from home

Written by Natalka Antoniuk, March 2020

I’ve been thinking about this lockdown. For those of us fortunate enough to still be working, albeit from home, we’ve got a good opportunity to monitor our spending and get on top of our budget.

On an average week, I work 9 to 5.30 as an in-house marketing executive for an exhibition stand contractor. The traffic around where I live is awful, so the 6-mile journey takes me almost an hour every morning. To cut out the traffic, I go to the gym before I drive home. So already I’ve got a car, petrol and a gym membership that I usually pay for that I won’t need until this is all over.

I decided to keep a money diary to monitor my spending and see if I could save money whilst I’m working from home. Common sense would suggest that I should be. But whether or not boredom gets the better of me we’ll have to wait and see.

Overview

Name: Natalka Antoniuk

Age: 26

Location: Bournemouth

Job: Marketing Executive

Rent: £875 monthly, shared with a flatmate

Council Tax: £172 per month (except February and March)

Utility Bills: £177.22 per month

Salary: £25,550

Outstanding Loans: Undergraduate loan and Postgraduate loan, plus interest (a sickening amount of money)

Like I’ve already mentioned, I have other monthly expenses. Transport is a big one. I also have a Spotify premium subscription, a gym membership and a Natwest Silver Rewards account that costs me £10 a month. We use my flatmate’s mum’s Netflix account so at least I’m saving money somewhere.

While we’re on lockdown, I can’t go out for food or spend money on the things that I usually would (Primark face masks and horoscope mugs). I’m expecting to save a lot more than I usually would, with my only real expense being food. Of course, that isn’t what happened.

How much did I spend?

I kept my money diary for three days, mostly because I didn’t think I’d spend anything for a day or two. Oh, how wrong I was. I spent just shy of £80 over three days of working from home.

The biggest expense was obviously food. I didn’t rush out panic buying pasta and beans when everybody else did. Now I’m facing a situation where I’m trying to throw meals together out of anything we’ve got in the cupboards. Most nights we’re eating what I like to call ‘freezer tapas’ which involves preheating the oven and cooking whatever we have left in the freezer.

Stocks are dwindling somewhat, so I did take a trip to Tesco. Shelves were reasonably stocked with some items missing. I tried to get what I needed for a week of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Because my go-to meals weren’t available, I had to think on my feet and mix-up my meal plan. I spent almost £40 which is definitely more than my average weekly food shop costs.

Food is always a reasonable expense. I can forgive myself for that. Especially as I’m saving money by not using my car or paying for a gym membership. The other £40 I spent is embarrassing though.

Despite having access to Netflix and Amazon Prime, plus every tv channels catch-up service, me and my flatmate decided we needed more entertainment to keep us going. We spent £20 on a NowTV stick. Although not a necessity, we have used this every night and watched 2 or 3 films that aren’t accessible through the other subscriptions. Our sanity will definitely thank us.

And what do you do when you are your flatmate are locked in your flat for an unknown period of time with nothing to do other than watch films, eat and work from your sofa? You get new matching pyjamas.  We paid £14 each, plus £3.99 for next day delivery of our new matching pyjamas. Woops.

Summing it all up

Yes okay I wasted money. By planning my meals better, and being a bit hotter on this panic buying frenzy, I could have cut my food bill in half. I know that I did not need another subscription service or another pair of pyjamas. I probably could have spent a third of what I did.

But at the same time, the world has flipped on its head. My tiny flat has become my office overnight. And if the only way I can bring an element of joy into this situation is by eating a lot of food whilst watching Lilo and Stitch with my flatmate in our matching pyjamas then that’s exactly what I’ll do.

It’s nice to know that there are ways I can cut corners and do more to achieve my long-term financial goal of buying a house. But at this very moment in time, I think we’ve got bigger things to worry about - don’t you?

Further reading

Find out more about
Child Trust Funds

Are we ready for a
cashless society?

Money management
tips for teens