Money Diary: An Account Manager In Suffolk On 38k

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 a 27-year-old account manager at a tech startup, living in Suffolk and working in Cambridge. I moved here last year when I bought my first house and moved out of my parents’ place, which is the other side of Cambridge. I’ve been at my job for two years, having started in an entry-level role in the middle of lockdown. I’m definitely reaping the benefits of being in a startup as I’ve had three promotions within two years and I’m eyeing a fourth before the year is out if everything goes according to plan. Prior to this I hadn’t worked for two years after quitting a neuroscience PhD when my mental health collapsed due to a very toxic work environment. I needed counselling to recover as I was basically traumatised by the experience, and I still take antidepressants daily as I’ve been left with anxiety and low mood. Because of this, I’m fiercely defensive of my boundaries and work/life balance and try to champion this at work as well.
I would say I’m a saver who has fallen into a bit of lifestyle creep! When I was growing up I was always expected to buy things I would use properly, not just things I wanted. I try to do this now but am prone to impulse purchases (thanks, shitty mental health). I’m also acutely aware that being a single homeowner puts a lot of responsibility on my shoulders alone as I can’t split the costs with anyone."
 
Occupation: Account manager
Industry: Life science tech
Age: 27
Location: Suffolk
Salary: £38,000 (plus around £3,000-£4,000 commission per year, paid quarterly)
Paycheque amount: £2,335 plus commission
Number of housemates: No humans, one cat (L)
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
 
Housing costs: £470 mortgage
Loan payments: None. I have two credit cards but pay off the full balance each month.
Pension? Yes, I pay in £95 per month and my employer pays £93. This is my first job with a pension so there’s not a lot in there.
Savings? £10k in an easy-access saver which gets a microgram of interest, left over from my house purchase. I also have £27k in my current account (which gets even less interest), which is earmarked for paying for my new kitchen and new car later this year.
Utilities: £49.25 combined internet and mobile phone. £117 council tax (with single occupancy discount). £105 gas and electricity. Water is £20-£25 a month. TV licence £159 annually, house insurance £249 annually.
All other monthly expenses: Car tax £145 annually, car insurance £250 annually, breakdown insurance £60 annually. Subscriptions: Netflix £10.99, Spotify £9.99. Skin+Me £14.99 (I’m probably going to cancel this soon). Graze £3.99. Amazon Prime £79 annually. Headspace £50 annually. Cat health plan £13.50 monthly (yes, he gets better healthcare than I do). Milk & More £2.10 weekly. Archery club and NGB membership around £100 annually.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I did a three-year undergraduate degree in physiology and neuroscience. My parents paid my fees and living costs, something they had saved up for my whole life. I’m very fortunate that they were able to do this as they didn’t want me to have to take loans. I also did two years of PhD study, which was funded by a research grant with a stipend for my living costs. I didn’t complete the PhD but luckily didn’t have to pay the money back.
 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
My parents didn’t discuss money much. Neither of them is from a wealthy background and I think this influenced both of them to be very careful with money. My dad’s career took off while my sister and I were still children so by the time I was really aware, we were fairly well off. My parents’ attitude has definitely transferred to me – it’s okay to spend money on things you need but it’s not for throwing around frivolously.
 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out when I began my PhD and then back in two years later when I left. I moved out (hopefully permanently this time) last year when I bought my house.
 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
When I was working on my PhD I was financially independent as I lived off my stipend. When I left, my parents supported me as I wasn’t well enough to work. Since I moved out I am financially responsible, however I know that if the worst happened, my parents would be there as a safety net for me.
 
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked Saturdays at the riding stables I attended from 14, as soon as I was legally able to. I was paid £4 an hour and the expectation was that you would work two to three hours paid and the rest of the day 'volunteering'.
 
Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. I have a good salary but the recent price rises of everything have made it a scary time to be striking out on my own. I’m also very conscious that I have to foot all my bills alone so if I ever lost my job or was too ill to work, I would be in deep trouble.
 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received £34k in inheritance from my aunt when she passed away, as she had no children. The value of her house was split between me, my sister and my cousin. I also received £5k from my nan, again when she passed away. I also received a one-off payment of £10k from my parents when my dad retired as part of his redundancy payout, with the expectation that this would be used for a significant purchase down the line – this went into my house deposit. I’m extremely lucky that these inheritances enabled me to buy my house. Without them, the amount I could get as a mortgage would have been nowhere near enough in this area to buy anything.

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