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Money Diary: A Junior Doctor On The South Coast On 29k

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 24-year-old junior doctor living by myself on the south coast and trying my best to keep going through the COVID-19 pandemic.Growing up my family was very comfortable. Both my parents are in finance so conversations around the dinner table often consisted of detailed discussions of trends in the S&P 500 or the latest IPO but I had no idea about day-to-day finances until about the age of 18. I do worry about money now. Mostly I feel guilty about not being able to help my parents in any way/repay their generosity. I also worry enormously about not being able to provide the same lifestyle for my children as my parents did for me. That being said, I believe in the NHS and don’t want to work in private healthcare. A dilemma. I also sometimes make very impulsive purchases – usually presents for other people. This stresses me out and yet I continue to do it.”Industry: HealthcareAge: 24Location: South coastSalary: £29,000. This is approximate as it depends on how many locum shifts I pick up. I’m hoping to bump it up to around 32k by the end of the year. NHS pension is 9.3% and is deducted pre-tax. I also pay £12 a month for the doctors mess. This would usually be for socials/sports etc. but is currently just a Diet Coke subscription. Paycheque amount: £1,836 monthly.Monthly ExpensesHousing costs: £700 rent including all bills. Super cheap for my area, especially as I live alone.Savings? £63,000: £3,000 in my savings account, £30,000 in a LISA, £30,000 in a SIPP. Both the LISA and SIPP are courtesy of my parents saving for me throughout my life. I know I’m extraordinarily lucky to have parents who can afford to invest money on my behalf and are financially literate enough to do so. They also paid for my university tuition so I don’t have any debt. I know I’m very privileged and am beyond grateful to my parents for their hard work and generosity. All other monthly expenses: £29 gym membership (currently on hold as we’re in tier 4). £5 New York Times subscription. £18.99 phone contract (unlimited data worldwide. Wish the worldwide part was still relevant…). £9.75 British Medical Association membership. Approximately £200 savings. £10 to Oceana, a charity helping tackle marine pollution and raise awareness of the plight of the oceans. £50 therapy. I should probably go more often than monthly but it’s so expensive. I have suffered from an eating disorder in various forms for about five years, which I’m still trying to squish. On a Spotify family plan, mooch Netflix off my brother.This money diary includes discussion of eating disorders and recovery.Day One5.30am: Christmas Day! I am working 8-9 today so I did a big dinner on Christmas Eve with my brother and my boyfriend, who live about an hour and a half away. Conveniently, they live in the same town (both areas were tier 2 prior to Boxing Day, both are now tier 4, cry). It was lovely but I am now tired and still very full. Reluctantly drag myself out of bed and into the shower. Leave at about 6 with a Diet Coke from the fridge in hand. Justify this bad habit with the fact that I’m working on Christmas Day. 7.30am: Manage to find a parking space near the hospital which has 11 hours of parking for £5.90. Win. It feels like it’s about -5 outside so I quickly make my way inside and grab a surgical mask and some scrubs. Wear my Christmas headband with red glittery reindeer on stalks as well because I think both the patients and I will need some Christmas cheer today. 11.15am: Done with ward round and our consultant goes home with instructions to call him if it’s an emergency. My registrar (a more senior doctor) and I are in dire need of coffee and I am starving. He very generously buys my black Americano (I honestly don’t understand how people can like milk in coffee?!) and I buy myself an overpriced brie and cranberry sauce panini. Spend the rest of the morning doing jobs from the ward round and singing Christmas carols. Unsurprisingly, there’s COVID everywhere. My department has four wards, two are now red and two are green. Usually we have separate teams covering them but on weekends and bank holidays it’s all covered by the same people. We are extra careful with PPE and hand hygiene but I still depress myself with thoughts of giving COVID to all my sick patients. £4.502.30pm: Okay so apparently the canteen is closed on Christmas Day and there is nothing open on Deliveroo. I am once again hungry and end up ordering a chicken quesadilla and some chips from the only place open on Uber Eats. It turns up an hour later and is greasy and cold. I eat it anyway and console myself with a cupcake and a mince pie. Overfull, I return to work, take some blood cultures and a blood gas from a very sick patient, and roll myself down to the emergency department to get the blood gas analysed. £127pm: Get to help my reg with an emergency operation. FUN! Inhaled a cinnamon and raisin bagel with butter and two shortbread biscuits from the ward before starting the surgery, as knew we’d finish late. The operation ends up being the best part of Christmas Day, particularly as he lets me suture (and compliments my hand-tying!). It’s a quick one and only takes a couple of hours. 10pm: I update the list of patients for the team tomorrow and head off at about 10. Get home by 10.30, shower and pour myself a very large glass of wine. Call my boyfriend S and de-stress, then head to bed at about midnight. Happy Christmas everyone! Total: £22.40Day Two9am: Roll out of bed and make some coffee before opening my stocking on FaceTime with my brother and parents. I know – I’m 24. My brother is 19 so neither of us has an excuse for still getting a stocking but my mum loves doing it, particularly this year as they can’t be with us. My parents live in Germany and we haven’t seen them since June. It’s my mum’s first Christmas without my grandma and I can see she’s really struggling. Wish I could give her a hug. COVID sucks. Get some lovely stocking bits: chocolate, an eyeliner, a book and a new bobble hat. Mum is the cutest. After FaceTiming for an hour, say bye to go and make some breakfast – eggs and smoked salmon on toast. Indulgent because #christmas. 11am: Head off to stay with S for the weekend. As I live alone, he’s my support bubble. I’m very grateful that we can continue to see each other as I think I would actually go insane otherwise – dealing with work stresses/winter without any sort of social interaction would be horrid. He lives with two uni friends, who are both single and are happy for me to be their one bubble person as well. I caught COVID in October so feel a tiny bit more relaxed about the risk of infecting them now as having had both COVID and the vaccine, I’m (hopefully) immune for at least a few months. Spend £36.50 on petrol (and a Diet Coke) on the way to S’s. Forgot to mention insurance in the monthly expenses section – my insurance this year (paid in one go in October) was £860. Yay. Perks of being under 25 with a car that’s probs too grown up for you. Car used to be my parents’ but they gave it to me when they moved abroad five years ago. 12.30pm: Read our new books (for the first year in a long time, people actually bought me books from my wish list! So happy) on the sofa and break for a lunch of leftovers from the 24th. Full repeat of Christmas dinner, including yule log. Promptly collapse back onto sofa with books for the rest of the afternoon. 5pm: Get a bit anxious and restless about having spent all day inside. I sometimes struggle with over-exercise and feelings of guilt/shame when I don’t do any. Trying to work on this – previously I would have got so anxious that I’d go for a long run but instead ask S if we can go for a walk. He is a gem and knows all about my mental health issues, and gives me an encouraging pep talk while we walk. Get back around 6 feeling much happier. Decide to crack open some of the remaining Christmas crémant. 8pm: Two bottles of crémant down and we are too drunk to cook. Order pizzas from a lovely local place on Deliveroo. S eats a whole big bag of popcorn while we wait for them, and decants some red wine as well. Mine has gorgonzola, walnuts and honey on it – don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it! I pay. Play some drunk Scrabble, drink yet more wine and eat some Toblerone. Bed at 11.30. £22.02Total: £58.52Day Three9am: Hungover. Shower and have a vast portion of scrambled eggs on buttered toast for breakfast, with approximately a litre of black coffee. S pats my hair sympathetically as he wanders upstairs to call his family. I watch some TV and feel sorry for myself on the sofa. Call my best friend B and catch up on her Christmas (uneventful, apart from her brother proposing to his girlfriend on Zoom!) and her life in general. We’ve known each other since we were 11 and this is the longest we’ve ever gone without seeing each other. We last saw one another in person in August, which feels like it was about five years ago now. 12.30pm: Wander around the local park with my godmother and her dog (socially distanced obvs). It’s nice and the winter sunshine is beautiful. She chastises me for not attending mass regularly anymore, as she’s very religious. I stopped attending church regularly aged 12 but she holds out hope that I’ll become a good Catholic again. I decide not to bait her and don’t mention the sex toy her daughter (one of my best and oldest friends) got me for Christmas. Buy a black Americano. £2.501.30pm: Buy some fancy bread on the way home to have with soup for lunch. Follow healthy-ish lunch with the remainder of my Toblerone from yesterday. S has spent the morning watching the Formula One documentary on Netflix and regales me with fun tidbits from the show while we have lunch. He then suggests we attend an event in person at some point post-COVID. I hum noncommittally. I’ll file it away as a good birthday present idea for the future, and try to get over my hatred of loud noises and the smell of petrol before then. £2.504pm: Get home to my flat and am feeling very stressed about lack of exercise/weight/overindulgence over the past few days. Unfortunately, my response to this is to binge eat. This was super difficult to write down so would appreciate it not being over-dissected in the comments. I’ve struggled with disordered eating for years and am getting better; it’s the main reason I’m in therapy. I decided to include it here because I think there’s so much shame around it that people don’t talk about it or get help. I am still very ashamed of it myself, which doesn’t help with the general body image difficulties. Cry on the phone to S for a bit, who is lovely and very helpful. He reassures me that it’s just food and it’s not the end of the world. Fall asleep and have nightmares about losing S because I can’t get better. Total: £5Day Four12pm: Drag myself out of bed after a morning of sluggishly watching TV on my laptop in bed. Clean up the kitchen, then force myself out on a run. 12km later, I give up and head home. At least it’s a beautiful day and I have a new audiobook to listen to. Would highly recommend Ghosts by Dolly Alderton, even if you didn’t enjoy her previous book (I didn’t). At home, I shower and do a face mask. 2pm: Aldi shop for the rest of the week. I buy: tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, eggs, naan bread, leeks, onion, crisps, crackers, Skyr, blueberries, Diet Coke, Cheestrings and granola. Never fails to amaze me how much cheaper Aldi is than anywhere else. At home, I have some leftover soup and some slightly soft carrots. I then manage to settle in and do some work – I have an important exam coming up in January and the last month has been super busy at work so I haven’t had time or energy to do much revision. Only 30-40% of people pass the exam each time so I’m not feeling particularly confident about my chances. £22.574pm: I have a protein bar and an apple, and settle in for Zoom Secret Santa with my best friends from school. There are seven of us who still regularly hang out and it’s so nice to see all their faces! I get Caste by Isabel Wilkerson – another book I’ve been meaning to read forever, so I’m super happy. We finish the call two hours later and I immediately settle in to start reading. 8pm: I meal prep for the week from Meera Sodha’s book East. I make a subji, which is like a vegetable stew and is delicious with some naan and yoghurt. It’s surprisingly filling and also takes quite a long time. After dinner, I realise that it’s past 10 and I should probably head to sleep before work tomorrow. I quickly do the crossword with S (yes, we do this most evenings) and do my skincare routine (not much of a routine really, I just wash my face and put on moisturiser) before going to sleep. Total: £22.57Day Five6.30am: Wake up and start the coffee brewing before jumping in the shower and washing my hair. Quick blow-dry and I shove on trackies for my walk to work (coffee in hand, obviously). I listen to the Christmas Off Menu special on my walk – such a good podcast! Get to work at 7.40 and inhale my breakfast of yoghurt, blueberries and granola. Change into scrubs, mask on and print the list for the ward round. Three days off feels like forever and I feel like I’m moving through mud this morning.9am: The consultant is grilling me on pharmacology on the ward round when a patient on our ward has a cardiac arrest. It’s all go and I do my first CPR on a real patient. The patient has COVID, which unfortunately means that there’s a delay in starting resuscitation as everyone has to put on level three PPE (N95 masks, visors, gowns and gloves). After about 15 minutes, we get return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) and the patient is whisked off to ICU. They’re one of our post-heart attack patients so the outlook for them isn’t great. We continue the ward round in muted tones. 11am: Coffee and debrief with my reg and consultant. This is becoming more commonplace after something like a cardiac arrest happens and I think it’s great. There’s still very much a culture in medicine of manning up and suppressing our emotions, which probably contributes to the high drop-out rate and rates of mental ill health in medicine. Consultant pays for my coffee but I buy my own protein bar. £2.501pm: Lunch of subji and naan in the mess. Free (or rather included in my mess membership) Diet Coke – win! Chat from a distance to some of the other junior doctors before heading back to work. Nab a couple of Quality Street from the staff room on our ward to get me through the endless discharge summaries that await me this afternoon. 5pm: Leaving on time! Walk home with the Christmas special of the Americast podcast (also very very good – def have a crush on Emily Maitlis). Get home and have some crackers and Cheestrings before heading out on a short run. Manage a relatively speedy 5k and am very glad I remembered my running gloves as it is FREEZING. 7.30pm: Have a cheese and spinach omelette with a naan bread (I know, bit rogue) for dinner and watch a couple of episodes of Bridgerton on Netflix. It’s trash but entertaining. I particularly enjoy that they’ve instrumentalised Ariana Grande for the ballroom dancing. Have a pint of Halo Top while watching (cookie dough flavour). Unexpected catch-up with a friend (M) from medical school between episodes, which is nice! All my doctor friends’ hospitals are underwater with COVID patients at the moment and everyone is feeling a bit on edge. The Christmas spike is not going to be good. 10.30pm: Talk to S and do the crossword (most of it – we’re not on peak form today). I realise it’s his mum’s birthday next week and panic shop for a present for her online. I end up buying her some sterling silver giraffe-shaped earrings on Etsy. I have two mugs of peppermint and liquorice tea before heading to bed. £14.20Total: £16.70Day Six5.45am: Head out in the dark and cold to do circuits with my friend V on the common. I offered (stupidly) to bring kettlebells, forgetting that mine are 9 and 20kg respectively. Clutching them in my arms like a very heavy baby, I stagger my way to the common, which is thankfully only a five minute walk. We manage 40 minutes of a mishmash of exercises (avoiding anything that involves lying on the cold, wet grass). I sanitise the kettlebell she used and we head home. 7.45am: Cycled to work today and get here with just enough time to eat my usual breakfast and change. Still very sweaty from the cycle and can feel a wet patch form almost immediately between my shoulder blades. Try to discreetly unstick my scrubs from my back as I go to handover – not sure I’m successful. I apologise for that mental image. 11am: On the red wards for this week and it’s a bit depressing. Tbh, we don’t do all that much for COVID patients. We give them steroids, monitor their oxygen requirements and blood test results, then basically wait and see. Some will improve, others will require ICU or palliation. Many of the COVID patients aren’t actually in hospital because of their COVID – they’re awaiting operations for other things and can’t have them until they’re negative. We finish ward round quite quickly and I help the green team with some jobs that can be done remotely, like discharge summaries. 1.30pm: Forgot to bring my lunch (well done me) so somehow end up spending £8.50 (?!?!) on a prawn mayo sandwich, protein bar, Diet Coke and apple. What a joke. Over lunch, one of the other juniors shows us a video that’s been going around of a woman walking maskless through empty hospital corridors as ‘proof’ that the pandemic is a hoax. Rage-inducing. The corridors are empty because we’re not allowing visitors and all outpatient appointments have been cancelled. I spent some of my morning prescribing end-of-life medications for one of my patients with COVID so the video puts me in a particularly foul mood. £8.505.20pm: Cycle home and make eggs on toast with carrots and lettuce for an early dinner. Still in a foul mood so at about 6.30 I head out for a walk with another of my favourite podcasts: Fortunately… with Fi and Jane. It’s comforting listening and the sea air feels nice. I chat to my mum while walking as well and she makes me laugh with her complaints about the German sense of humour and the fact that my dad has rekindled his love of Abba recently. Head home in a much better mood. 7.30pm: Stop off at Aldi to buy tampons on the way home. £2.208.30pm: See that I’ve been charged an extra £15.44 by my phone provider this month (on top of my usual £19-ish contract). Realise it’s because I called my dad numerous times on his German phone rather than using FaceTime. Why am I so stupid. Suck it up and make a mental note never to do that again. £15.4410pm: Have most of a 100g bar of chocolate and a packet of crisps. Hate myself quite a lot for this but try and rationalise the feelings and not let them overwhelm me. Mostly successful – proud of myself! Head to bed after chatting to S and washing face etc. No energy for crossword this evening but oh well. Total: £26.14Day Seven5.45am: Awake and scrolling through phone. Try and find energy for run, fail. Contemplate New Year’s resolutions and do my yearly thing of coming up with a really long list, which I will save on my phone and promptly forget about. Message S as he’s also up (he starts work at 6.30 – no idea how he does this) and he suggests I come over to his after work as I have tomorrow off (I’m working the weekend). Yes, please. 7.45am: Usual walk to work, this time with the Ghosts audiobook, breakfast, scrubs. Talk myself out of buying a Costa on my way in and instead have room temperature coffee from the cafetière in the staff room when I arrive at work. Much nicer than anticipated and stronger than rocket fuel. 11am: Ward round finished and I’m about to be bought coffee by my registrar when I get bleeped by bereavement to come and do a death certificate. Abandon coffee expedition reluctantly and get sucked into a two-hour nightmare of going between the medical examiner and coroner’s officer. Feel like Hermione. “I am not an owl!” 2pm: Have lunch of subji, naan, yoghurt and a Diet Coke. Have loads of jobs left to do this afternoon because of the bereavement office nightmare so crack on after lunch. Unfortunately, one of my patients is deteriorating so I bleep my registrar to come and review her. He agrees that she looks worse and we review her bloods. Her procalcitonin is raised, suggesting a bacterial infection on top of COVID, so we start her on antibiotics. She has multiple comorbidities and would be unlikely to benefit from ICU admission so we write a treatment escalation plan form for her and update the nurses on the plan. I call her family, who are desperate to visit. I feel like a horrible person as I deny them access to their very sick relative. I have to tell them that they can only come in if she’s actually dying, and they cry. 6.20pm: I leave work over an hour late and starving. I grab a meal deal and packet of gum from M&S on the way to the car – spenny but worth it. Prawn mayo, Diet Coke and carrots with hummus. Jump in the car and leave for S’s. £5.608.10pm: Arrive at S’s to find he’s still at work. Chat for a while with L and G, his housemates, who I’ve got really close to during the pandemic. We have a gin and tonic, which makes me immediately sleepy. I text S to see if he’ll be home soon but no reply. I fall asleep on the sofa. 10.40pm: S arrives home, in a very bouncy mood for someone who’s just had a 16-hour day at work. I wake up very disorientated and sleepily cuddle him on the sofa while he talks about his day. I doze off again while he grabs a drink and they let me sleep until 5 to 12, when they wake me for the start of 2021. I eat a celebratory Oreo and we go to bed. Grateful to be with friends this evening, and to be rid of 2020. What a weird year. Total: £5.60The BreakdownFood & Drink: £170.14Entertainment: £2.70Clothes & Beauty: £160.45Transportation: £25.60Other £12.45Total: £371.34Conclusion “In conclusion, I would say this is a pretty average spend week. I cooked less than is usual for me and ordered in more, but what is the Christmas perineum (as my family call it) for if not that? I also noticed how much of a toll work during a pandemic is having on my mental health, particularly living alone. While I have struggled with mental health difficulties for years, I’ve never been this acutely anxious before. I’m grateful that I have such a good support network in my family and friends, and that I’m lucky enough to have a financial safety net such that I’m not also worried about money on top of the pandemic. I hope everyone had a good new year and is making it through lockdown three!” Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Money Diary: A Pharmaceutical Scientist On 38kMoney Diary: A 25-Year-Old Radiographer On 31kMoney Diary: A Consultant In Solihull On 38k

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