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A Week In The UK As A Freelance Writer On £40k

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last penny.
This week: "I’m a 34-year-old single freelance writer who recently relocated to the countryside from London. This has been a big lifestyle change for me as it’s my first time living alone (I previously lived with housemates and, most recently, my ex). It has definitely been an adjustment, both in terms of financial responsibility and not having the convenience of living in a city. I worked in TV and entertainment throughout my 20s and switched to freelance when I hit 31 after experiencing burnout. Since then I have scaled back my work commitments as I prefer being more flexible and I'm writing my first novel on the side.
Although I'm good at being frugal and resourceful in some respects, I recognise that I definitely have some unrealistic lifestyle standards. Throughout my 20s and early 30s my life was incredibly Ab Fab, benefiting from many media freebies (we’re talking international luxury hotel stays and spa trips), mixing in celeb circles and attending red carpet events. I never saved and lived very much for the moment, meaning my life is very different now! Although it’s hard not having the fiscal security that others do, I wouldn’t swap my crazy life experiences and making the most of being young (and satisfying my small-town teenage dreams) for anything."
Occupation: Freelance writer
Industry: Media
Age: 34
Location: Southeast
Salary: £40,000/$77,877 AUD (on average).
Paycheque amount: Approx. £3,000/$5,840 AUD before tax but this varies month to month.
Number of housemates: None
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £890/$1,732 AUD (rent)
Loan payments: £25/$48 AUD (credit card).
Savings? Just over £5,000/$9,733 AUD. I pretty much obliterated my savings by moving, furnishing my new place and then going travelling for four months after the pandemic (well overdue after life on hold for so long). I am now saving everything I can after each invoice is paid to replenish the pot.
Pension? I paid into a pension throughout my 20s when I worked in TV. Obviously now I’m freelance, I will be reliant on whatever savings I end up with.
Utilities: £100-£130 ($128-$253 AUD) gas and electric, £20 ($39 AUD) water, £202 ($393 AUD) council tax.
All other monthly payments: £12 ($23 AUD) phone, £10 ($19 AUD) charity donation. Subscriptions: £9.99 ($19 AUD) Spotify, £2.50 ($4.87 AUD) Substack, £9.99 ($12 AUD) The Times.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Yes, academia was a significant part of my background. I went to university for a BA in art history and thankfully most of my tuition was covered by my student loan allowance. I worked throughout to be able to afford my rent and I was pretty terrible with maxing out my overdraft.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I think my upbringing gave very conflicted views about money, which has definitely affected my relationship with it. My mum came from a very well-to-do family who lost everything so she was incredibly frugal and hammered home this idea that money was scarce, which definitely had a negative effect on my relationship with it in later years. Conversely, my dad was self-made from an incredibly poor, working-class background and was far more generous. This schism has definitely shaped my attitude to finances and there was very little actual financial education beyond this sentiment. We definitely had very little money when my parents first had me as they were quite young and newly qualified teachers. Later, however, my dad became one of the highest paid lecturers in the region and housing was included so it became wall-to-wall world travel during the school holidays and very decadent Christmases with disposable income. This changed in my teenage years after he had a health crisis so although we were always comfortable, it was back to the general scarcity mentality.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out fully at 22 when I landed my first full-time media role in London.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
Realistically, I've been pretty much financially self-reliant since university, although my parents have helped me out with small amounts on occasion when I couldn’t afford my rent.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked as a babysitter from the age of 13 (I’m not sure if that’s even legal now or was then).
Do you worry about money now?
Yes. Particularly with the constant instability and flux of being freelance, it can be scary knowing I literally only have myself. I prefer passion projects so my work is simply for the income. It’s my first time living alone so having to pay for everything can be daunting. I have a tendency to be overoptimistic when it comes to projected earnings, then struggle if a contract doesn’t come through or the budget gets slashed. I'm very good at being frugal and resourceful in some areas; other times I crave a bit of luxury and convenience. 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
Oh, if only. And I never expect to.

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