My Money: ‘I wonder if my wallet or body will recover?’


Image copyright Zak Hoblyn

My Money is a series looking at how people spend their money – and the sometimes tough decisions they have to make. Here Zak Hoblyn from London takes us through a week in his life as a first-time buyer during the coronavirus pandemic.

Originally from Wiltshire, Zak is 27 and lives in North London with his fiancée Leah who is a radio presenter. He works as a lift and crane engineering surveyor and loves his job. However, he says it is made hard by his height; reaching for door releases can be difficult at 5ft 6″. The couple hope to get married in July 2021 in Glastonbury.

He enjoys running so much he describes himself as “addicted” to it. He is running both the rescheduled Tokyo and London marathons (last year he completed the Paris marathon – his first ever.) Another hobby is finding bars and pubs in an attempt to soak up the London vibe. He is a Liverpool fan, so residing and working within Arsenal and Tottenham can be challenging.

This week Zak and Leah bought and moved into their first home.

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Over to Zak…

A 06:30 alarm rudely awakens a deep sleep, I check my emails and BBC Sport on my phone with the screen brightness on full to help wake myself up. Whilst checking my emails I have a confirmation email from the van hire company which Leah and I will be using tomorrow to move out of our apartment (£86) for 24-hour hire.

I head to Kings Cross on the bus, my travel is all paid for by my company so no expenditure. Once at Kings Cross I have to walk past a Pret A Manger which was closed last week due to coronavirus but is open today! Without doubt due to the fact all the coffee at home is packed away somewhere, I go in and order my normal filter white coffee (99p) for the caffeine boost I am desperately needing.

I finish my first two sites opposite Paddington station which were on the same road in quick time so I see a small independent café (on the hunt for more caffeine) but unfortunately the card minimum is £5. Not to worry, nothing a vegetable samosa can’t sort out.

I am in North London come 14:00 and I am left waiting for a client. Whilst doing so I order a circular saw online as I need to cut my 3m long oak table to be able to move it out of the apartment (£39.99). I buy a sparkling water (99p) from a petrol station and use the toilet, two birds, one stone! Public toilets are gold dust in London.

Total spend: £132.97

Image copyright Zak Hoblyn

I am up early again as I need to pick up the hire van from just outside Camden. I buy an avocado and some breakfast muffins from Lidl for a pre-move breakfast (£1.24). I pick up the hire van and pay (£2.50) for an hour’s parking in Haringey, enjoy the avocado and muffins and start loading the van.

One trip to the new place with the van full, unload with help from the seller which was greatly appreciated then we were back in the van going back to the old place for round two! Whilst lugging a washing machine and fridge into the van Leah hears the sweet, sweet sound of an ice cream van. I had the audacity to order a 99 with an ice lolly plopped right in the middle whilst I got a usual 99 with a flake for the other half [£4.20.]

Once the new place was full at 19:00 we could not even fathom the thought of going to the shop to buy ingredients, so we get on Uber Eats and hunt down the closest highest reviewed fish and chip shop. Two cod and chips… [large of course] comes to £24.59. This included delivery. It did take us five minutes to remember to change the home address on our Uber Eats account. The day ends with me returning back to the old flat to cut my table with my new circular saw at 23:30… the now old neighbours will not be happy, a 15-hour day, I am still wondering if my wallet or body will ever recover?

Total spend: £32.53

Five hours sleep and I am up, scrambling around boxes and bags trying to hunt for my toothbrush, I am out the house by 07:00 as I need to drop the van back before 08:00 to ensure I do not exceed the 24-hour hire. The traffic is very calm and I make good time. I stop at a petrol station to top the van up. Luckily, due to coronavirus and the issue Opec are having with balancing the price, £15 is more than enough. Once the van is done I get a bus to Kings Cross, I am working with a colleague today and he is a little late so I head to Pret and stock up on coffee and food because our fridge is still empty. I opt for an avocado and egg baguette, oat cookie and white filter (£4.93).

We work hard and have a lot done by 12:00. Luckily the premises, usually extremely busy with human traffic using the lifts, is absolutely silent again due to coronavirus – this makes our job a lot easier. We stop for lunch, back to Pret (creature of habit, I know) for a duck wrap, sparkling water, another cookie and a white filter. I also buy my colleague a fizzy drink as he is doing the hard bits today as he can see how broken I am from the move yesterday (£8.83).

I get home around 15:30 and remember that we have to use a portable BBQ on the balcony as we have no oven! I take a three-minute walk to Tesco to pick up halloumi, Heineken beer and some caramel ice creams. We have a freezer for the first time in two years so this is a novelty (£7.20). We enjoy the BBQ and catching up on the day, whilst blissfully ignoring the boxes on the floor, despite Leah’s monstrous effort at getting through a lot of it. How do two people have so much stuff?

Total spend: £35.96

Image copyright Zak Hoblyn

My day starts a little later today. I head to Finchley Road. I of course stop at the Pret outside the station (99p). I get an email from my boss telling me to go home at lunch to crack on with the house – what a star! I get home for 12:30 and begin my DIY on the leaking sink and the flush that does not flush! Diagnostics done, jog to B&Q to pick up spares (£15.57), a new outlet valve for the toilet and a new basket strainer for the sink. Repairs worked a treat until I remember I need a new flush for the toilet. Another jog to B&Q and I spend £5.25. I also buy Rug Doctor formula for £11.

When I go outside I get a call from Leah asking me to meet her at Asda Home. We buy a portable stove, super glue and a mop and bucket (£30.33) – they were all fairly essential items. The food consumed tonight was tortellini.

Total spend: £63.14

Image copyright Zak Hoblyn
Image caption A photo of Zak and Leah taken last September

My day starts at 06:30. I head to the North Circular to cover a colleague’s patch and then come back into London to the Whittington Hospital. After this I stop at Lidl for two packs of sushi and a Diet Coke (£3.97). My day ends at 15:00. Once home we begin decorating, sanding down the bathroom and then we head to Tesco to pick up some Rug Doctor (£31.98). We are home in under an hour and begin the process of cleaning the stairs. After two hours we begin to tire so I jog to Lidl and pick up two bottles of beer (£3.95).

Total spend: £39.90

My Money

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Working overtime today so I am back in Kings Cross for 08:00 and without hesitation head to Pret for the white filter (99p). Our work is done by 12:30 so I head home and begin painting the bathroom walls whilst my partner is just waking up from a nap after her morning shift. We continue decorating together until around 18:00 when we decide food supplies are needed. I swap my painting t-shirt for something a little more presentable and head to Lidl. I pick up some empanadas, arancini and four tins of lager (£6.97).

We work late into the night fuelling off lager, red wine and prosecco which our lovely new neighbour brought round for us yesterday. With the bathroom half gold and half pink we gingerly head to bed and consider, have we been too garish? Bed by 01:00.

Total spend: £7.96

Image copyright Zak Hoblyn

Sunday started with a poor attempt at a lie-in. We got up just before 10:00 for a final coat of pink for the bathroom. Breakfast wrap on the move whilst we head out the door to drop off the Rug Doctor at Tesco. The queue was pretty small considering it is a Sunday and we only had to wait five minutes before making it into the store and dropping the Rug Doctor off.

We purchase sweets and fizzy drinks (£3.50) as we require a little pick-me-up whilst heading down to Vauxhall for the Black Lives Matter protests. We get home for 15:15 and head straight to Asda from the station to pick up a smaller paint roller (£2). We then go next door to Lidl and purchase gnocchi for dinner and some tortilla wraps for the week, as well as some lagers as tonight is my partner’s night off (£13.32). We continue with the bathroom whilst enjoying gnocchi and lagers late into the night. Nice way to end a busy, emotional week.

Total spend: £18.82

Image copyright Zak Hoblyn
Image caption Black Lives Matter protests at Vauxhall

Total spent this week: £331.28

How does Zak feel about his week?

If it was not for the move I think it would have been a very cheap week. That being said there were no scary hidden costs that we did not expect. The fixes within the house were basic maintenance to some extent so that could have been a lot worse. I definitely spent more on coffee this week but I think that is due to Pret finally opening.

The beer runs were cheaper as we live next to a Lidl now so no more paying corner shop prices. I think this saved me £10 over the week. Whilst life is cheap due to the virus it is also cheap on experiences and social interactions. I would prefer to spend more money on a nice cold draft with the people I love.

We’re looking for more people to share what they spend their money on. If you’re interested, please email my.money@bbc.co.uk or get in touch via our My Money (World) Facebook group, or if you live in the UK, please join our My Money (UK) Facebook group and we’ll aim to contact you.