My Money: 'Hollie thinks she spent less than me'

My Money is a series looking at how people spend their money – and the sometimes tough decisions they have to make. Here, Jay and Hollie, a couple from Liverpool, document their spending during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hollie is 24 and lives with her parents, while her boyfriend Jay, 27, lives at home with his grandad. They want to buy a house together, but Hollie says she’s too much of a spendthrift to save enough for a deposit.

Hollie earns £1,600 a month working for a bank. She works four days on, four days off handling calls on fraud, disputes, and general customer service. Jay works in a bar and earns up to £16,000 a year. He was on leave the week of this blog. In their spare time, they both love gaming, going to theme parks and doing anything spooky – “any stereotypical goth stuff”.

At the beginning of the week Hollie said she wasn’t hugely worried about the coronavirus risk. She has already had Covid-19 and lives with two people who work on Covid wards, so feels more at risk at home than when she is out and about. But by the end of the week, Hollie’s views had changed.

Hollie and Jay kept their money diaries before the latest restrictions were announced for Merseyside.

Over to Jay and Hollie…

Hollie: So I’ve started the week by waking up and browsing on social media in bed. Regrettably for someone who spends a lot of effort trying not to spend too much money on online shopping, I happened to stumble across a couple of adverts for clothes that I REALLY liked. I purchased a crop top and tote bag from one company (£33.95) and a crop top and tote bag from another company (£38.70). I know that I really do not need two tote bags and I don’t even remember the last time I had the confidence to wear a crop top… but I really have no self restraint.

I got out of bed in an urgent attempt to get off my phone and stop browsing clothes, and made my way into the city centre (£2.20 spent on bus fare) to meet a friend for some brunch. On the way, I stopped off at the nearest shop and purchased a pouch of tobacco (£20). For brunch, I bought a vegan club sandwich, a salted caramel latte with oat milk, a vegan chocolate cake and an iced tea. This came to £16.80.

Total spend: £111.65

Jay: We got the bus into town with Hollie, so I spent £2.20 on the bus fare. I then bought a pack of cigarette filters, which cost £1. I got myself a margarita pizza and a drink for £4.23 and played some games in the arcade whilst waiting for Hollie who was with her friend. Then I met up with them to play pool and have a drink. I bought mine, Hollie’s and her friend’s drinks, which came to £9.30.

Total spend: £16.73

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Hollie: Jay and I decided to have a date day in Manchester. I bought a bottle of kombucha at the train station as I hadn’t had the chance to have my morning coffee and was getting pretty cranky! (£3… which made me even more cranky).

After lunch (which Jay paid for) I introduced him to my favourite LGBTQIA+ bar and I treated us both to a pint each (least I could do and they were only £2each!). We ended up going to three more bars along Canal Street, stopping off for a drink in each bar. I paid £5.20 for two halves in one bar and Jay paid in the others. We then ended the night in a pub close to the train station, where I paid £10 for two pints just before heading home. We had our masks and hand sanitiser the whole time so we stayed sensible.

Total spend: £22.20

Jay: I booked two train tickets to Piccadilly Station (£19 for two). We got ready and jumped on the bus into town (£4.40 for two bus tickets) and headed straight to the station. Once we got to Manchester, we stopped off at a nearby bar and got a pint of beer each, which came to £9.60 altogether. We then walked around the corner to our favourite restaurant, which we had a booking for at quarter past twelve. In the restaurant we ordered two beers each, two burgers, mac and cheese and loaded fries.

We hadn’t tried some of the food that we ordered yet so we decided to halve everything to share. All in all, food cost £50.10 (expensive but so worth it). After we finished our food, Hollie took us to the Gay Village for some drinks. I had not been before and Hollie really likes some of the bars there so we decided to have a bar crawl. Hollie bought me a couple of drinks while we were out, so I only paid for a spirit and a pint for us in one bar (£6) and a pint each for us in another (£8.30).

I’ve always been wary and aware of the Covid risks, because I live with a vulnerable person, so I take extra precautions with regularly sanitising and keeping distance, but working in the hospitality industry I’m already at risk as it is.

Total spend: £97.40

Hollie: On Wednesday I had planned to go visit a friend for a catch up in a pub we regularly visit. I woke up and jumped on the bus straight into the city centre (£2.20). My friend was already waiting for me when I arrived, so I eagerly got myself a pint of cider (£2.55) and we ordered three small plates of food to share (£3.75). I bought myself another couple of drinks during the catch up (£8.20) and then stopped off at a nearby shop to buy some tofu before heading home. Whilst at the shop, some vitamin tablets caught my eye, so I ended up spending £1.98 on a block of tofu and £4 on vitamins for vegans. When I got home, I watched some TV with Jay and we ordered a takeaway, which he kindly paid for.

Total spend: £22.68

Jay: I got the bus into town with Hollie (£2.20) and while she met her friend I stopped off at a bar to have a couple of drinks (£9.40 on drinks). When we got home Hollie was going to cook us dinner, but I really wanted a cold drink and as the shops were closed at this point we decided to get a takeaway. I ordered a couple of cans of soft drink and we got some chips and garlic bread to share (£16.60).

Total spend: £28.20

Hollie: Today we decided to have a lazy day. I just needed to pop to the local shop to get some fruit and veg for the rest of the week so we took a trip around the corner and I spent £16.91 on all of the veg and a melon. I was planning on cooking us some food for dinner, but after my mum and stepdad came home and ordered a Chinese takeaway, me and Jay got major food envy so decided to also order one (paid for by Jay).

Total spend: £16.91

Jay: We spent the day watching TV and gaming. I wasn’t planning on spending any money today, but Hollie decided that she really wanted Chinese for dinner so I ordered us a takeaway, which came to £14.70.

Total spend: £14.70

Hollie: Today was my first day back working (from home) after a lovely six days off, so I woke up an hour before I was about to start work and made myself and Jay some cheese on toast and coffee. I love days when I am in work, because I just cook things that I already have in the house and I’m too busy to spend much money, but on this occasion I did spend £5 towards a collection for a colleague who has recently had a baby.

Total spend: £5

Jay: Hollie was back in work today, so I left her house at about 9:00 and headed back home. I spent the day gaming and watching films, talking to Hollie whenever she was on her break. I ate food that I had already bought from my food shop, so I did not spend any money at all today.

Total spend: £0

Hollie: Today was the first day that I did not spend any money on anything at all and I am really proud of myself. I woke up and had some honeydew melon and an oat milk coffee for breakfast and then cracked on with work. For lunch, I had some quick noodles with fried vegetables and then for dinner I made myself some vegan chicken nuggets, onion rings and gravy (random mix, I know). I then spent the last hour of the day before bed playing a few video games.

Total spend: £0

Jay: I woke up early and did my weekly food shop with my grandad. I ended up spending £38.25 on food and drink to last me until next Saturday, and then I headed back home. I decided to go meet my best friend in town just to get out for a bit. I got the bus into town (£2.20) and stopped off at a nearby shop to buy a can of energy drink and a 50g pouch of tobacco (£22.95). While I was with my friend, I ordered a panini and a beer (£3.99). After food, we moved to a different bar so that we could watch the football, and I bought another pint for £6. We then moved on to another bar to meet some of our work friends for a little while. All in all, I spent £23.41 on drinks. I left to go home at about 1:00, and as I had missed the last bus, I spent £9 on a taxi back. When I got in, I put a film on and fell straight to sleep.

Total spend: £105.08

Hollie: Today I woke up and had some melon and coffee for breakfast again, and then got to work. For lunch, I had some leftover garlic bread from a takeaway that my mum had ordered the night before with added jalapeños because I love a bit of spice in my life. I invited Jay over for dinner so he brought a bag of rice and I made us sushi and vegetable curry (super random mix but we are so indecisive and couldn’t choose between the two). We ate dinner together and then he left again because I had to get back to work.

Total spend: £0

Jay: Today I woke up at about 15:00 and decided I would spend the day watching TV and gaming. I chilled out for most of the day, and then Hollie invited me to hers for dinner. She needed some rice so that she could make sushi rolls for us, so I stopped off at a local shop and bought a bag of rice for £1.99. We ate sushi rolls and then I had to leave to go back home as she had to continue with work.

Total spend: £1.99

Total Hollie spent this week: £178.44

Total Jay spent this week: £264.10

How do Jay and Hollie feel about their week?

Hollie: I think I probably spent less than what I thought I would spend to be honest. I think I did pretty well in terms of not buying too many clothes or takeaways. It’s been a bit of a reality check as to how much we spend, especially on food and drink, and that we really need to cut down if we want to save up to move out any time soon!

Jay: I was paying for most of our things, so that’s probably why Hollie feels as though she’s spent less. But I think writing things down has really helped us.

Hollie: I had a Covid scare this week, turns out it’s just a chest infection but it really put things into perspective for me and I think now I’d rather stay in for a little while. Since doing this blog, Liverpool has gone into local lockdown so we can’t get buses unless going to work and there are no restaurants around by us. It’s also illegal for us to go into each other’s houses for the time being, so I think for the foreseeable it’ll just be a case of meeting up in the local pub every now and then. It’s not great but we make it work – we both ordered a Domino’s at the same time the other day and then just messaged each other our thoughts about it while eating! It’s a crazy time for everyone right now but I do know it’s for the best. People’s safety is a lot more important than us going out drinking.