Business

My Money: 'My mate spent £6 on four Hula Hoops packs'

Harriet Brown Image copyright Harriet Brown

My Money is a new series looking at how people spend their money - and the sometimes tough decisions they have to make. Here, Harriet Brown from London records her spending over a week and shares tips for saving.

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Harriet is 23. By day she works as a customer care executive and social media assistant for a jewellery company. By night she has a second job as a freelance music and fashion photographer. She tours with a band called Black Honey.

She earns around £25k a year and moved from Brighton to London this week. She said it was "heartbreaking but necessary." Over to Harriet.

Harriet's week: 'A bizarre and unconventional rollercoaster of service stations and strange late night bars'

In the words of Kylie Jenner 'riiiise and shine'. It's 06:00 and still dark when I am rudely awoken by my alarm clock. Sadly there is no time to sulk about being awake. I moved house yesterday and need to figure out which box my clothes are in, otherwise I'll have to go to work in my toothpaste-stained pyjama t-shirt and tie-dye jogging bottoms.

I briefly consider how my boss would react if I did show up in pyjamas - today (16 October) is my last day in the office until 8 November so I'd have over two weeks for everyone to forget. Anyway, clothes found, coffee downed, teeth cleaned and it's time to leave.

I tap in at the station on my Monzo card - it's rush hour so this will cost me £4.70.

Image copyright Harriet Brown

13:00 means lunch break!

It's been a busy morning and I've worked up an appetite. Even though I was going to make a packed lunch, moving house took longer than planned so I never got round to it.

This means only one thing: Lunch at Leon. Leon is my weakness and my love - there is one a stone's throw from the office and I can't resist a good Mexican bean hot box. As there is a strong chance I won't be having dinner until late (if at all) tonight, I get vegan "jack wings" as well. With that it's £7.90 for lunch. Not the cheapest lunch but definitely the best.

Writers note: I used the jack wings as a bargaining tool and traded some for a slice of banana bread to have later.

18:17

Work is finished and I've jumped on a bus from London Bridge to Liverpool Street (I know it's a short walk but my bags are heavy). This costs £1.50 according to Citymapper.

Tonight I'm heading off for 18 days to go on tour with a band called Black Honey - I've been touring with them as a photographer regularly since 2017. Music photography has been my side gig (pun intended) for almost five years and I've used the last of my annual leave for this.

21:30

I just arrived at my friend Izzy's House (she's the lead singer of Black Honey). It took me an hour and a half and I had to drive around most of the M25, but I've made it! I had to get petrol - this came to £29.90. I don't drive my car loads so this will last me a while.

Izzy is still packing and to her dismay, I've picked up more clothes from her stylist. More outfit options means harder decisions on what makes the cut. It takes us three more hours to decide what outfits will be packed.

Total spend: £44.00

Image copyright Harriet Brown

10:00

In desperate need of a haircut before the van arrives at 10.30 I had a look at the local options. In the end I got Izzy's mum to do it which saved me time and money. So that's a win.

12:16

We have loaded the van and are on our way to Holyhead for the ferry. We won't be in Dublin until midnight, but I've just realised I don't have any euros so the later we get to Dublin the better. I still haven't spent any money today but service station lunches can be extortionate so I'm not holding out much hope.

15:00

We did stop at a services for lunch, it cost £5.99 for a pumpkin katsu curry. This isn't as expensive as I expected, one of my van mates spent £6 on four packs of Hula Hoops so I think I got off pretty lightly.

18:00

We're still in the van - I ate some Percy Pigs that one of the band members had left on the table. They may not be particularly nutritious but, oh boy, free Percy Pigs taste so sweet (thanks Chris).

19:36

The ferry was delayed so I got some £2.50 chips and tried to make them last as long as possible. Then I played some Sudoku and had a nap.

By the time we got to the hotel it was 01:00. So naturally we dropped our bags off and went to the bar across the road. I didn't spend any money because the boys got me a drink. I will be buying them one in return, though, so I wouldn't say I 'saved' money, just delayed when I would be spending it.

Total spend: £8.49

11.32

I slept through until 11 today, which is completely unprecedented for me. I texted around to see who else was up and then wandered down to the pub. Our hotel is a Wetherspoons and this means a 'spoons breakfast.

I PayPal Tom £9 to cover the drinks last night and my breakfast. I thought I lost my bank card last week and panic-cancelled it, so the only way I can get to my money currently is through PayPal.

Image copyright Harriet Brown

16:57

We drive to the venue and I immediately leave on a walk to buy camera film and a new light reflector. These are band purchases so go on the band's card. So no outgoings for me. Now it's time to eat crisps in the dressing room.

20:00

The band went on stage - the venue was so massive that photographing them involved a lot of sprinting from side of stage, to photo pit, top balcony, middle of the crowd and back. This is probably my most focused part of the day. There isn't time to fumble around when you only have half an hour to capture as much as possible, so everything becomes a lot more efficient.

It's probably around 03:00 when we get back to the hotel. The six-and-a-half hours between coming off stage and getting back to the hotel involved lots of champagne, half an hour taking photos with a taxidermy bear and a considerable amount of silliness. We drank in the venue meaning the drinks were free, which was in equal parts excellent and dangerous.

Total spend: £9

10:30

Wetherspoons breakfast with extra avocado €6.50. This is the first time I've changed over to euros this week and I stupidly pay it on my card even though I have €20 in my wallet.

Image copyright Harriet Brown

We're driving to Belfast today so I'll save the euros for Paris next week.

Today is payday from my other job (hoorah). This means that I've got to remember to put money aside for car insurance and monthly direct debits. This comes to £139.

I didn't really track time properly today but it played out a little bit like this:

Pack at hotel. Drive to Belfast. Edit last of yesterday's photos. Sort out social media posts. Photo shoot in venue. Walk to local cocktail bar. Decide not to buy cocktail - service was slow and time was tight. Walk back to venue. Wolf down burrito our tour manager bought for us. On stage at 20:00. Watch headline act from 21:00. Put bags back in van. Leave venue at about 23:00.

23:30

We're in the pub at the hotel. I spent £3.70 on a pint I then had to down because the pub shut. Could probably have not had the pint and been just as happy but oh well.

Total Spend: £148.32

09:00

Breakfast finishes at 10:00 so we put on tracksuits and shuffle down. The breakfast is complementary so that's great. Today we drive to Newcastle. Our ferry is at 11:00 so we all jump in the van and head to the port.

12:00

Did someone say £10 spa on the ferry?

This is possibly the bargain of the century, for a mere £10 per person you can use the on ferry 'Nordic spa'. So obviously me and Izzy were in the hot tub before the boat had even started moving.

Once we are fully relaxed and rejuvenated we head back out to explore the boat. We stop for lunch at the café. I pay for both of us - it comes to £13.40. We managed to get free coffee and extra mushy peas too, which was a nice treat.

14:00

We dock in Cairnryan, Scotland and head to Newcastle.

17:00

En route an accident meant we had to take a one-hour detour. We ended up in a Starbucks where I spent £3.08 on a packet of crisps and a peach iced tea. This should keep me sustained until we get to Newcastle.

18:00

It's dusk and we are still driving. The scenery around us reminds me of something out of a Jane Austin movie. So I decide to watch Pride and Prejudice on my laptop for the remainder of the journey.

Total spend: £26.48

It's a day off in a Travelodge outside Newcastle. We sleep until 10:00 and then go to a vintage car garage to take photos with the cars. We get back at 14:00 and get back into bed. We stayed there until 16:00 with little movement and a failed attempt to get Deliveroo to come out to us. We have a night of bowling and food ahead of us, so I don't expect today's money saving will last.

Image copyright Harriet Brown

18:00

We're in a Yo Sushi eating to our hearts content. Both me and Izzy are feeling a bit flu-ish so we fill up on ramen and miso soup to smoke out the oncoming cold. This came to £7.30.

19:00 and it's time for bowling! We play three rounds and drink more cocktails than we should. It cost me £25 and then was followed up by a £4 portion of chips and veggie burger from the late night chip stall.

Total spend: £36.30

Lobby call is at 15:15 today.

As you can probably tell, throughout this diary timings have become increasingly loose. This is mainly because I have no real concept of time anymore. Everything you do in the day becomes part of a routine. Wake up - figure out food - consider whether you have a hangover or not - get to the van - get to the venue - load in - show time - load out - watch headline band - back in van - new hotel - sleep - repeat.

Emily (tour manager), Aoife (sound engineer) and I drove to a local shopping centre and had a meal at Chiquitos. I order as much salad/vegetable based goodness as I can. I also get a takeaway to take back to the hotel for later. This comes to £22.48 but will keep me running for today and some of tomorrow.

I can't really remember much of the day after that. The show starts and ends at the same time every night and the songs don't change. After a while memory tends to skip over small details that repeat themselves to save itself time.

I maybe had one glass of wine tonight and we were in bed by midnight. It's been a good week but this tour isn't even half way through.

Tomorrow is Birmingham followed by London, Glasgow, Manchester and Nottingham. Then we cross the Channel and head to Paris, Antwerp and finish in Utrecht. At least my euros will come in handy.

Total Spend: £22.48

How does Harriet feel about her week?

Image copyright Harriet Brown

On the whole this week doesn't really reflect my average weekly spending when I'm just at home. Each trip is always a bizarre and unconventional rollercoaster of service stations and late night bars.

These weeks are the weeks I will look back on with warmth for the rest of my life, and to me that's priceless.

Total weekly spend: £295.07

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