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Money Diary: A 27-Year-Old TEFL Teacher In Spain On 12k

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 27 and living in the south of Spain, teaching English. Most Spanish children and teenagers receive extra English classes after school and I currently teach a range of ages, from 5-year-olds to 60-year-olds. I’m also involved in the recruiting and admin side so I have a role outside of the classroom, too. Before the pandemic, we were super busy and on the up. Things are far calmer now and although this means at times I’m worried about my job security and the future, I’m enjoying the slower pace of life too. I live with my partner, M, who works for the same company (in fact, he’s my boss! This isn’t as weird as it sounds…). We were together for a year before I joined the company and, unlike what most people think, it’s great to work together. We have our moments, of course, but for the most part, being able to support and understand each other on so many levels, both professionally and personally, has strengthened and deepened our relationship. We have a joint account and do a budget of shared expenses together each month. We then split this 50% and transfer what we owe into the joint. Before the pandemic, we split it percentage-wise as M earned a good bit more than me but he is currently on partial furlough (working reduced hours), so now we’re going 50-50. Like everyone, we’ve been impacted in various ways by COVID-19. Spain had one of the strictest initial lockdowns last year and we didn’t leave the house for 50 days, apart from going to the supermarket. Now, restrictions come and go every month depending on the infection rates, but we have so far avoided another full-scale lockdown. My partner and I both lost about 20-25% of our expected income last year, as lockdown meant our opportunities to earn bonuses vastly decreased. We’re only really coming to terms with what this means financially for us now, and are trying to budget more so that ideally, we can keep saving to buy a house.” Industry: Education (private sector)Age: 27Location: Cádiz, Spain Salary: €14,400-16,000 (£12,420-13,800) gross (range due to possible bonuses). Paycheque amount: €1,000-1,100 (£863-949) – this ranges each month depending on taxes, which tend to go up and down due to the way the Spanish system works. Number of housemates: One, my partner of five years, M. Monthly Expenses Housing costs: €675 (£582) rent (split). This is quite expensive for the area we live in, however it’s a steal for what we have: a three-bedroom house with a study, living area, kitchen and large pantry. The house also has a basement and two gardens, back and front, which are large. We moved in December 2019 and the house was an absolute blessing in lockdown – my partner and I each had a separate work area, which meant we could keep the living area clear of work. The garden was and is a godsend – I’ve become obsessed with plants. We appreciate it so much and although if we lived somewhere cheaper we would save more, our quality of life living in such a wonderful space is great. We couldn’t dream of living somewhere for this price outside Spain, or even in a city here. Loan payments: €100 (£86) car loan, split. The car was bought two years ago and we have another two years left to pay off €2,150 (£1,855). We looked at paying this off using savings but it would only save us €100 in total so we prefer to keep the safety net of savings and keep going slow and steady with the loan. Utilities: €40 (£34.51) electricity, €20 (£17.26) water, €40 internet, all split. Water goes up in the summer months as I need to water my veggie patch a lot, due to the heat. I feel a bit guilty about this BUT it really is such a satisfying hobby and consuming organic veg is better for us. Transportation: €20 (£17.26) approx on petrol a month. I walk to and from work every day so we only use the car for shopping and errands and to drive to our friends’ house who live about an hour’s walk away (but a 10 minute drive). Phone bill: €9.99 (£8.62) a month. This gives me 1GB of internet and free calls and I have no need for anything more!Savings? I have a few savings accounts and really need to sort out a better system… I have €5,800 (£5,000) in long-term savings, which ideally will go towards a house deposit. €3,300 (£2,847) of this was inheritance when my grandfather passed away two years ago and the other €2,500 (£2,157) I’ve managed to save. €160 (£138) in a shared car savings account with my partner. We put €10 (£8.63) each a month into this account to pay for any car repairs – it had €240 (£207) last spring when our power steering broke. I felt like I had achieved peak adulting when we were able to use the savings. It really relieved the stress that can come with an expense like this…although I haven’t yet learned to apply this elsewhere.€240 in a ‘holidays account’ although not sure if I should repurpose this money… I have two other savings accounts with the names ‘fun money’ and ‘short term savings’ which have the grand total of €1.13 (97p). These haven’t been topped up since the pandemic started and I used the money in them to buy a new phone when mine broke. Other: €9.99 (£8.62) Spotify. I held off on getting premium for so long but the ads were driving me crazy and although I’m not a music obsessive, I listen to it enough that I think it’s worth it. €15.99 (£13.80) split with partner on our beer box subscription. We get six craft beers a month delivered to our door and it’s become a tradition of ours to sit in our garden on a Friday night to enjoy one together. We started doing this during lockdown and it’s one of the good things that has come out of the past year. Day One 8.45am: Roll out of bed and head to the spare room where I have my yoga mat and laptop set up. I’m trying to be more proactive as I realised the past year had made me very passive and I was stuck in a bit of a rut. Stretching for 10-20 minutes a day makes me feel very in control and kickass – and Yoga with Adriene really centres me. 9.15am: Eat my breakfast with M. My brother gifted me chocolate peanut butter for Christmas (an Irish brand called Harry’s Nut Butter – unreal) so stick some on porridge with banana. And the obligatory coffee too. Double-check the shopping list app we use, stick a few more things on it and M heads out to do the shop. We’re trying to keep our food budget on track as we both tend to really want to treat ourselves here. I potter about once he’s gone, doing the washing up, putting a wash on and doing a little tidy. We used to have a cleaner pre-pandemic, when our work schedules were far more intense. I miss the amazing deep cleans they used to do, I just can’t replicate it. But with more time on our hands now, it’s not a justifiable expense. 10.15am: Check in on my seed babies growing on a sunny windowsill. This is a daily occurrence for me, the excitement of seeing them pop up and grow is second to none. Currently I have tomatoes, parsley, chives, coriander, peppers and cucumber all planted up. 11am: After a shower and some personal admin, M comes home from the shop. I help him unpack. He is chuffed with his cheap beer purchase for the weekend – a few one-litre bottles for 63 cents (54p) each! We would normally buy some nicer (and more expensive) 33cl beers but you can’t beat this cheap price when you’re trying to save. We’ll see if they provoke a nasty hangover… Unpack the rest, mostly veggies and fruit. €47.50 (£40.98) from joint account, €23.75 (£20.49) for my half. 12.45pm: I head to work. My schedule is a little unusual – I teach until 8 or 10pm so I start late. Enjoy my walk in. It’s 30 minutes each way, which means I get an hour’s walk every day. I appreciate being able to do this each day and rarely having to worry about the weather. The ability to spend time outdoors without having to plan for rain is one of the main reasons I love living in Spain. 4pm: After a positive staff meeting, I head to my first class of the day. Ten 5-year-olds are waiting for me! Their energy is infectious but they really don’t understand how to keep any distance from one another which stresses me out. I keep calm and try to remind myself that I’m doing my best. At the end of the class, one of the boys comes up to me with a stamp and tells me “Today you very good” and I get a stamp on my hand. Thank you for the affirmation, kind child. 10.30pm: Home from work, the rest of my classes flew by. We’re having *that* feta pasta dish for dinner – leftovers from the day before. We both agree it is far better on the second day. I flake at 11 o’clock and head to bed. M stays up watching New Amsterdam, a super cringe but addictive hospital drama on Netflix. Total: €23.75 (£20.49)Day Two 9.30am: Wake up to the sound of rain. Even though it’s Friday, I’ve no work. It’s a bank holiday weekend in my region, so no work today or Monday – four-day weekend! I had planned to do some digging in my veggie patch and also a beach walk. The rain puts me off but I manage to do some yoga. 10am: M suggests we make the cinnamon rolls we have in the freezer – great idea! Yummy breakfast, although we now need to make a trip to Ikea, which is the only place we can buy these. Believe it or not, Ikea is open over here. 11am: Hop on my laptop to make a list of things I want to buy in the next few months. I have ideas rolling around my head so I want to make a list where I can evaluate the expenses and make sure they are worth it. They range from Birkenstocks to a de-bobbler – a varied list. So many of my winter scarves are looking scruffy so I think a de-bobbler would help me smarten them up and avoid buying another one. 1pm: Rain has stopped so I go out into the garden and gaze at my flowers that are all coming up. Investing €25 (£21.55) in bulbs in October was the best idea. Daily joy! I feel very middle-aged but gardening has really been such a source of comfort to me the past 12 months. Pot up some mint which is growing like crazy and needs a new home. 4pm: After a banana and a yoghurt, I head out for a walk. I’m starting to get period cramps and hopefully a light walk will help them ease up. I’ve heard this advice for the past 15 years and never felt that it works for me but a walk isn’t bad regardless. 5pm: Back at home, on the couch with a hot water bottle, a cup of tea and my Kindle. I’ve just finished my book and really want something gripping. I read a lot, five to 10 books a month, but haven’t had something I’ve loved in a while. Decide on American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, I’ve read three of her other books and loved every one. Purchase on my Kindle and get stuck in. €6.50 (£5.60) 7pm: M joins me on the sofa and we stick on Bohemian Rhapsody, which we’ve seen before but I feel like it will cheer me up as my cramps are quite bad by this stage. We make pizzas ( well, half make – we buy the bases and do the rest) and settle in on the sofa for the evening. Normally we would enjoy a beer outside but due to my cramps we have them watching the movie. 12am: Bed! With a hot water bottle and taking painkillers so I don’t wake up with cramps, hopefully. Total: €6.50 (£5.60)Day Three 9am: I wake up and roll over to take painkillers straightaway. Then I roll out of bed, fill up my hot water bottle and get comfy on the couch with a coffee and my book, which I’m enjoying. 10am: M makes me a toasted breakfast sandwich, what a darling. 12pm: Rouse myself to have a shower. We are going over to our friends’ house today (at the moment we can have gatherings of four people). Since lockdown was lifted here, we have only been socialising with this couple – all of us are expats so no family in the area. I guess they are our unofficial bubble. I had planned to run to their house but my cramps are so bad that my whole lower body is aching and I don’t want to push it. 12.30pm: We leave and drop into a pharmacy on the way so I can pick up more painkillers as I’ve run out. Meds are so cheap in Spain, €1.12 (97p) for 40 tablets! 4pm: Having a lovely afternoon, playing board games and having a beer or two. Constantly clutching my hot water bottle to my stomach but at least the company and gaming is distracting me. The rest of the day continues in this fashion: we play and I try my best to ignore the dull pain in my stomach. 12.30am: Home and bed. Total: €1.12 (97p)Day Four 10am: As soon as I wake up I know today will be a couch day. I didn’t sleep well and I’m tired from the constant pain. I get annoyed at myself, as I do every period, for accepting this pain and not pushing to get it investigated further. 4pm: After copious hours spent dozing, reading and watching TV from the sofa, I get a short walk in and tidy the living area a little bit. The movement is good but after 90 minutes I’m ready to return to comfort. 8pm: M wonders out loud if we’ve been paid yet… I immediately know he wants to get a takeaway. He admits he does and I cave, despite the fact we haven’t been paid. It’s between Indian and McDonald’s – this time, burgers win. A large meal deal for us both, with six nuggets each for good measure. I pay on my Uber Eats where I have a €12 discount for purchases over €20. This does mean we are forced to add an apple pie to make the minimum purchase! €12.12 (£10.45) including delivery fee, so €6.06 (£5.22) each. 9.30pm: Burgers and nuggets demolished, M reheats the apple pie and serves it up with some ice cream. A delicious ending to a day of recuperation. Go to bed hoping for a better day tomorrow. Total: €6.06 (£5.22)Day Five 9am: Awake and loving the birdsong, which seems to be getting louder every day. Happy to find I’m not in agony, although still need to take a painkiller. I do have to be very careful about timings and I monitor how often I have taken them, as I don’t want to damage my liver. 9.30am: Make a coffee and bring it out to the garden for a wander. Notice that I definitely feel stronger today so make a quick to-do list on my phone and get cracking. 1.30pm: Feeling great at how productive today has been. I’ve weeded and turned over the soil in the vegetable patch, changed the bedclothes, hoovered the floors – all while listening to podcasts and having the odd chat with M along the way. We decide to leave for a walk on the beach as it looks like it might rain soon. 2.15pm: Beautiful walk along the beach, we are both in T-shirts and shorts. I still have to pinch myself that I live in this climate. Living somewhere with warm weather impacts me positively on a daily basis and I try hard not to take it for granted. Especially this year – it has been tougher to live abroad but being outside helps remind me why I live here. 3.30pm: When we get back I decide to do my budget for this month, even though I haven’t been paid yet. While I’m at it, I do some savings planning. Although it only takes me 30 minutes, I feel super delighted I did it. Quick mental note to try to do this more often. 4.30pm: Decide to look at what seeds I haven’t planted yet. I decide to try rocket, lettuce, spinach and spring onions. Planting seeds is so quick, I love it! Hopefully they grow well. 6pm: I get to making pudding. We decided this year to have a dessert every weekend, although we quickly revised this to every second weekend as it felt a bit OTT. It’s my turn and I’m making a self-saucing lemon pudding. Thank you BBC Good Food for an easy recipe that looks amazing. 7pm: Once the evening rolls around, we sit down on the couch for more television. The date for the new series of Line of Duty has been announced so we decide to rewatch it all in anticipation. Accompanied by the lemon pudding, which is delicious. I can’t believe how good it is – probably the entire stick of butter it contains helps… 11pm: Early night as back to work tomorrow! Total: €0Day Six 8.30am: Up I get and back to my ‘yoga studio’ (i.e. spare bedroom). I’m having trouble focusing on the poses and feel distracted and a bit anxious so decide to call it a day and head downstairs to do some tidying up before breakfast. I find putting some order on the house calms me if I feel anxious. 10.30am: Before heading to work, I hop on the laptop to start transferring out my savings. We’ve been paid, whoop! I send €250 (£215.55) in total, divided between my various accounts. 10.45am: Saving done, I hop onto the Lush website. I have been using their plastic-free deodorant for three years now and I ran out last week. I find it works just as well as supermarket deodorant and one bar lasts me 12 months so it is incredible value. I also add two soaps to the basket, I try and buy these when I can in an effort to reduce plastic too. I’m by no means the best at reducing my plastic intake but at least my shower is plastic-free! €23.45 (£20.22) for two soaps, deodorant and shipping. 12pm: I head into work slightly earlier than usual as I have to do a lot of planning today, on top of interviewing a few people. 5pm: Finished my first class and a headache hits – ahh! I keep paracetamol in every bag I own as I tend to get headaches frequently so I take one and hope it holds off. 10.30pm: Home, after a refreshing walk in the evening air. M has taken a pie out of the freezer, the perfect comfort food. We watch another episode of Line of Duty but I am asleep in 20 minutes on the couch… Not quite sure how I made it to bed! Total: €23.45 (£20.22)Day Seven 8.30am: It’s been a week since I’ve gone for a run due to the cramps so I limber up and get my podcast ready to go. I started running in October as my gym had very few precautions and I felt uncomfortable in the classes where nobody was wearing a mask and there wasn’t any social distancing. Now I can run 5km easily and am super chuffed with myself. I take it easy today and let myself away with a 4.5km run. 9.30am: Porridge and coffee, as usual. M bought a mango in the shop last week, it’s a tasty addition to my breakfast. 9.45am: I take a look at my seeds and give them a water. A cucumber seed has started to pop up – cue much excitement and squealing on my behalf. I take a picture to send to my mum – we keep each other updated on our gardening exploits. I got so much joy last year from harvesting my own vegetables and am so looking forward to it again. 11am: As we’ve been paid, M and I sit down to look at our shared budget. It’s usually similar from month to month but it’s a good chance for us to check in about our finances as otherwise we can easily be on different pages about where we should spend our money. After we’ve done it, I transfer my share into the joint and M transfers the rent straightaway. We send the rent and water bill together to our landlord, €715 (£616.46) in total, which makes my share €357.50 (£308.23). 12pm: I’ve arrived to work where I was meant to have an interview at 12pm. I’m so confused as the meeting isn’t in my Zoom and has disappeared from the booking platform we use. Then I check my email and see that the person rescheduled at 10am through the platform, without leaving any message as to why! I find this a bit off-putting as I would always expect someone to explain if cancelling two hours before. I make a note to bring it up in the rescheduled interview for next week. I also hop onto the booking platform and change the settings so rescheduling can happen up to 24 hours beforehand but no later. 2pm: I go for lunch (provided by work) and it’s spring rolls! This makes me so happy. 5pm: Onto class and before it begins my 11-year-old students are talking about ASMR videos on TikTok. One of the students has a ‘pop-it’ (like bubble wrap but silicone so can be reused), which are used in the videos, and they all start to crowd around and touch it. Obviously this isn’t great in the middle of the pandemic so I get them all to wash their hands – despite just having done it – and I spray down the pop-it to clean it. Situations like this were very stressful for me when we returned to the classroom but now I know that, working with kids, these kind of things are bound to occur and the best thing I can do is respond calmly. I am also kind of tempted to get one of these pop-its… Might be nice to do when watching TV as I sometimes find myself picking up my phone for something to do with my hands. I’m not sure what it means that I am being bought into this kind of trend… My students inform me of the many websites that they are available on. 9pm: My classes finish earlier today so it’s home for dinner. After dinner I get the urge to buy more seeds to plant… I am obsessed. I buy basil and chilli seeds, both of which were not in stock on my last trip to the garden centre. They are cheap on Amazon, €1.40 (£1.21) each. As I click buy, I internally berate myself for buying on Amazon. €2.80 (£2.41). 9.30pm: I decide to buy a new book and browse the Kindle Daily Deals to see if something takes my fancy. I’ve found new books this way that I never would have read otherwise, but I’ve also found books that were on my reading list. Not today however… I buy a book called Ask Again, Yes which is hailed as the new Little Fires Everywhere. More money heading Amazon’s way… I do feel less guilty about buying on the Kindle as I can’t find printed books in English here and reading is such an important part of my life. €4.40 (£3.79) 11pm: I decide to get an early night. M and I read until we both fall asleep. Total: €7.20 (£6.20)The BreakdownFood/Drink: €29.81 (£25.70)Entertainment: €13.70 (£11.73)Clothes/Beauty: €23.45 (£20.22)Travel: €0 Other: €1.12 (97p)Total: €68.08 (£58.62)Conclusion”I would say this is an average week in spending for me since the pandemic hit. Before the pandemic, I would have had more expenditure. What is clear is how much I value spending money on my hobbies – I have no problem with spending money on books or seeds but I would seriously reconsider the expense if I was spending that money elsewhere.Although it’s not related to finances, writing down how bad my cramps were and how much they affected me on those days has really drilled home that I need to seek more medical help for this issue. As doctors have never helped me before, other than telling me to take more painkillers, I’m nervous about advocating for myself (especially in another language and in the middle of pandemic, when the health service has been through so much).” Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Money Diary: A 26-Year-Old SEN Teacher On 17.5kMoney Diary: 20-Year-Old Law Student In WiltshireMoney Diary: A Recently Let Go Accountant On 93k