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Money Diary: An Associate Director On £68,000

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 35-year-old associate director working across PR, digital and influencers. I have lived and worked in London for the past 13 years, with a few stints of travelling and living abroad. I bought my tiny flat two years ago. It was a real project as it took a year to complete and it needed to be completely renovated. I moved back home during lockdown and managed to save enough (£15,000) to rip everything out and completely redo it (on a very tight budget). I bought a lot from eBay/Marketplace/secondhand to make my vision become a reality. Even though it was hard work (it took another six months to finish and I was living between home and with friends for a year) it was totally worth it and is now my happy place. I’m quite thrifty and always search for the best price for something. I love to travel, eat out and socialise, so this is where the majority of my money goes. I do really want to meet someone that I can have a family with and settle down so I am currently battling the London dating scene — it’s wild out there! I’m very lucky to have a strong, supporting group of female friends as well as a close family network, which I really cherish.”
Occupation: Associate director 
Industry: PR and communications 
Age: 35 
Location: London 
Salary: £68,000 per year 
Paycheque Amount: £3,655 
Number of housemates: I live by myself in a one bed flat 
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses 
Housing costs: My mortgage is £960.
Loan payments: I pay £344 for my student loan and I have about a year left until it’s paid off. I’m looking forward to paying it off as it’s quite a big chunk each month! 
Savings?: £3,594.65 in a Moneybox cash ISA; £776.55 in a Moneybox LISA. My ex-boyfriend (we broke up last summer) owes me £1,750 which I’m really hoping I get back. This was cash I transferred to him, and money he spent on my card without my permission. He was financially reliant on me — in addition to what he owes me — so I’m only just getting my finances back on track. I also have roughly £350 in crypto, which I don’t really understand it if I’m honest. 
Pension?: I pay £147 and my employer pays £110 (3%).
Utilities: £86 council tax; £27 water; £40-£60 energy (depending on usage). 
All other monthly payments: £28 for phone handset; £35 phone bill (unlimited contract); £8.49 phone insurance; £7.54 home insurance. Subscriptions: £15 Class Pass; £16.99 Raya; £15 Body by Ciara; £170 gym/members’ club; £50 International Rescue Committee; £190 travel insurance.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it? I went to university where I studied history of art and visual studies, and received a maintenance and university fee loan. It seemed like such a lot of money when it came into my bank account (lol that I’m still paying it back). 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
My parents definitely prioritised making memories with us when we were younger, but I know they worried about money and worked hard to make their finances work. My mum was the breadwinner and often worked away from home and very late/early, while my dad had a local job and took on more of the childcare — which was unusual 25-30 years ago. When I was about 21, my mum was made redundant and didn’t get another job for six months. It was a really hard time with so much uncertainty but it forced my parents to look at their spending and also change their priorities. Mum ended up setting up her own thing and in a few years was making so much more money that took them my surprise (and I mean they could do a few big trips and experiences). They both came from working class backgrounds and worked really hard to make sure my brother and I could learn musical instruments and attend drama lessons, et cetera. I feel very grateful for the childhood they gave me growing up. 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents’/guardians’ house? I moved out when I went to university and then moved back for a bit in lockdown when I was buying my flat (little did I know I would spend as long there as I did). My dad had a stroke a few years ago and so I spend quite a lot of time at my parents’ house helping them out and keeping the peace. My mum has found it difficult going from an equal relationship to more of a carer role, so they rely on me quite a lot to be there.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life? I was financially responsible for myself after university (except when staying at my parents’ house over the years). 
What was your first job and why did you get it? I worked in a hotel as a waitress and chambermaid at 14. I also did some babysitting and cat feeding in our village.
Do you worry about money now? 
Yes, I do. I worry about not having enough savings to be able to afford to freeze my eggs or having a baby on my own if I don’t meet anyone. My parents have both now retired and I want to make sure they can enjoy the rest of their lives and not worry about money. I know having grandchildren is so important to them and I worry I won’t be able to give them that. 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
My parents bought my grandparents’ house from them when we were younger to release money for them so they could go on holiday and enjoy their last years. When they died, my parents sold the house and gifted my brother and me £20k towards a deposit to buy a house, which I am incredibly grateful for. Looking back it must have been such a stretch for my parents to juggle two mortgages and all the costs of bringing up two children, too.