My Money is a series looking at how people spend their money – and the sometimes tough decisions they have to make. Here Alex Wright from Leicester takes us through a week in his life during the coronavirus pandemic.
Alex, 29, is a venue manager of a gaming arcade and earns £25,000 a year. However, he has been placed on furlough since March. His partner Rebekah is an NHS nurse and has recently started maternity leave following the birth of their twin daughters, Eden and Indie, last week. They have two older boys, Rory, five and Casper, four.
Over to Alex….
The day starts at 7:00 with the newborn twins needing a feed. They came home yesterday after being at the hospital for the past few days and are on a feeding plan to help them gain weight as they were born nearly five weeks early, which means they will need formula in addition to breast milk. We never intended to use formula as breast milk is a lot cheaper! But when it comes to health, there is no discussion needed.
We’ve had a new Tesco open close by so I take a walk to see if the formula is in stock and how much it costs, whilst also taking the opportunity to use their coffee machine! They have the formula but it’s slightly more expensive than our usual shop so I do not purchase it. I do pick up a coffee, a Red Bull, a couple of croissants for our other two children and some bacon for £7.85.
12:30. We have a visit from the community midwife to see the twins. Everything is ok and both gained some weight! Going to come back again in two days to make sure all ok.
Rest of the day is spent tidying. Our house with six in has suddenly gotten a whole lot messier! The twins are settling in and getting used to the new noisier surroundings generated by their older brothers. I purchase the formula from Sainsbury’s where it is £10.50.
Total spend: £18.35
7:00. I check my bank account and see the direct debit for the gas and electricity has been taken today (£42.84). We’re using slightly less than this so the account is now £5.86 in credit.
Usually I would be at work now but being on furlough is a strange situation, I’ve never not been at work since turning 18. The time at home is great, even more so since the twins’ arrival, but it does feel like something is missing, let alone £200 less in my pay. To help with this, we have taken the option of a mortgage holiday which is saving us £627 a month.
11:30. We take a walk to the park for a picnic with a detour to the shop for supplies (£19.95). I always make sure I scan my Nectar card app as my points balance is worth over £55. Hoping to have this close to £100 in time for Christmas.
16:00. I plan to laminate the hallway but when I start I realise I’ve lost my hammer. I rip out the old skirting board and clean up before going to buy a new one. It’s Casper’s birthday on Friday and Rebekah asks me to pick up some things for his party so with these, a new hammer, some other bits and a couple of new t-shirts, I’ve spent £54.81. When I return I tell her to never send me shopping again on my own, I always seem to buy more than intended!
Total spend: £117.60
11:00. The community midwife arrives and Indie has gained a lot of weight but Eden is still the same. We’re advised to keep to the feeding plan and she will return to check again on Friday.
13:30. During lockdown, we decluttered and listed a few items on eBay. A Nintendo Wii sells for £36, so Rory and I take a walk to the post oﬃce. We nip into the shop ﬁrst for a drink and a sneaky chocolate bar (£2.10). I tell him that he’s not to tell his brother or mum! Postage and packaging costs £14.49 and it’s on its way to its new owners.
17:00. I’m informed I will be returning to work on 8 June. This is a surprise as I wasn’t expecting to be back till July but the arcade I manage is being classed as a non-essential shop. I have mixed emotions, probably more so because of the surprise at being allowed to open. I pass the message on to my team who, reassuringly, respond with excitement.
17:30. I don’t usually drink alcohol at home but seeing friends having drinks tempts me. £18.80 and a case of beers later and drinks for Rebekah and the boys, we’re out in the garden.
Total spend: £35.39
Total made: £36.00
10:00. I have a busy day planned today. I agreed to help my mum’s partner by moving a load of mixed concrete for him from a wagon. When I finish, there’s a KFC close by which doesn’t look busy so I pop by and have a ﬁllet stacker meal which is £6.59.
16:00. On to the next job ﬁnishing the laminate ﬂooring at home. Some diﬃcult cuts to do round the stairs, doorway and piping but the job is complete and I’m happy with how it has turned out.
18:00. Need to pick up party food for Casper’s birthday tomorrow. I can’t remember the last time I ﬁlled the car up and it comes to £58.14, usually this would cost close to £70 every couple of weeks so love the low oil prices! Then to the supermarket where I spend £161.53 on food, tableware, party supplies and some tiny baby clothes as the girls are not ﬁtting their up to one-month outﬁts.
I spend the rest of the evening building a go-kart whilst my partner wraps the presents we’ve been hiding in the wardrobe.
Total spend: £226.26
It’s party day! Casper is turning four today and what a strange time to be in! It would have been his ﬁrst real party with pre-school friends but sadly, not going to be the case. To try and make the day special, we found a bouncy castle company still operating and ordered one for the garden.
7:00. No surprise with the early start, the birthday boy jumps on to our bed super excited. Whilst this blog is about money, there is nothing quite as valuable as seeing that excited smile on your child’s face.
8:00. The bouncy castle arrives and is inﬂated. They disinfect the castle prior to leaving and we pay them £55 for the day. The boys waste no time in jumping on!
11:00. The community midwife arrives to weigh the twins again. Both have put on weight, enough for no further additional visits, with the next being at 21 days.
11:30. So throughout the day, lots of text messages and phone calls arranging times for visitors to bring presents for Casper whilst complying with social distancing measures. Certainly a different type of party than we’re used to. However all is worth it, especially when the birthday boy says it’s the best birthday ever.
20:00. After a tiring day, a Chinese has been ordered (21.80). No way either of us are cooking tonight.
Total spend: £76.80
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12:15. As I am soon returning to work, I draft up some rotas ready for the reopening. It will be strange going back after so long and still so many questions. Will we be busy? How will customers react to the changes? And most importantly, will my team and myself stay safe?
13:30. A further DIY task, today the glamorous job of sealing a toilet base. Two young boys tend to “miss”. However, all doesn’t go to plan as one of the screws is damaged. After an hour of trying to remove, I begrudgingly order a screw extractor and some screws for click and collect which comes to £11.57. Get home but still no luck. I clean as much of the area and scrub underneath as much as I can then seal the base. Disappointed at a job half done and wasted money.
18:30. The day is wrapped up with a conference call to discuss fundraising ideas for Lutterworth Town FC, who I am the club secretary for, and a night on the sofa in front of the telly.
Total spend: £11.57
A quick look at today’s forecast, another hot day on the cards so we decide to have a barbecue.
12:30. Off to the supermarket to pick up some coal, drinks and food to cook and prepare. £43.60 spent and plenty to enjoy.
14:00. The BBQ is going well, sun is shining and the boys are playing nicely together and the girls have been sleeping most of the time.
20:00. So after a relaxing chilled out day, me and Rebekah talk about the crazy week we’ve had. This coming week we need to decide what to do as we have the option of sending Rory back to school from 8 June. It seems like everything is going back to normal.
Total spend: £43.60
Total spent this week: £493.57
How does Alex feel about his week?
This week was by no means a normal week! Normally we would have done a weekly shop, maybe filled the car with fuel, made another couple of trips to the shop and spent around £150-£200. Being on furlough, and I’m sure others can relate, has left me a lot of newfound free time. I feel this has assisted in making the weekly spend creep up to help the days go by.
I don’t know how I would class myself with spending. On the one hand, I always look for the cheapest deals and have no problem in not buying something there and then because it’s the easy option. But on the other hand, I do tend to put a few non-essential items in the basket. This My Money exercise has certainly opened my eyes to what I actually do spend.
However, despite spending almost double on our usual week, this week has created memories to last a lifetime and you just can’t put a price on that!
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