Money Diary: A 30-Year-Old Associate Solicitor In Leeds On 53.5k

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 people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period – and we're tracking every last penny.
As every person's financial situation is unique, going forward we're asking diarists to complete a series of financial-based questions to provide readers with more context to their relationship with money. Please remember before commenting that the diarists are from a range of backgrounds and cultures and their experience, education and mental relationship with money might be very different from yours. Money Diaries are designed to provide readers with diverse experiences of spending, saving and asking for more in the hope that by learning from each other, we can build a more positive financial future together.

This week: "I'm a 30-year-old solicitor living and working in Leeds. I have worked at home pretty much exclusively since the pandemic began and my firm has since introduced a flexible working policy, which means that we are expected in two days a week minimum. Since the start of the pandemic, I have bought my first house and got engaged. I didn't expect to do either of those given that a) I spend money like it’s going out of fashion and b) I am the child of separated parents but here we are! Pre-COVID I had zero savings and lived paycheque to paycheque. Although I earn a decent amount, I was terrible at managing my money (is being bad at maths an excuse?!) and would spend most of my money on holidays, skincare products, going out and random impulse purchases. As holidays weren’t an option during the pandemic I managed to save money for the first time in my adult life, all of which went towards the deposit for the house that I bought with my boyfriend, P, last year. In the interest of full disclosure, I also received some inheritance which went towards my share of the deposit. When it comes to money, I am 100% a spender and not a saver and tend to impulse-buy but I’m trying to rein that in seeing as we have a wedding to pay for and a house to renovate. By contrast, P is a natural saver and has the excellent balance of being frugal with money without being tight."
Industry: Law
Age: 30
Location: Leeds
Salary: £53,500 plus 6% profit share every year. My boyfriend earns £100,000 a year plus bonus.
Paycheque amount: £3,206.67 
Number of housemates: One: my fiancé, P.
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £749 for my half of the mortgage.
Loan payments: £2,268 to pay back on my student loan (I am currently paying this by direct debit and it will be paid off by May 2022). £2,221 on a 0% interest spending credit card (I pay the minimum amount due each month) and £1,056.25 left to pay on an interest-free loan I took out to pay for Invisalign (I also pay this in monthly instalments).
Savings? £1,270. My savings were wiped out by my house deposit. I try to save £600 to £700 every month, which I use to buy stuff for the house or to save for holidays. From October I’ll start saving this amount for the wedding. P saves around £2,500 every month but we save separately and don’t have a joint account. 
Pension? My employer contributes 4% and I pay 4%, which comes directly out of my paycheque.
All other monthly expenses: My phone bill is £32.39, car repayment £180, income protection & illness insurance £56.59, bike insurance £2.24, credit card payment £39, Invisalign payment £81.21, contact lenses £45.30. I also split a number of expenses with P, which works out at £4 for Amazon Prime, £6.13 TV licence, £90 council tax, £20 water, £58 gas and electricity, £13.17 home insurance, £57.78 sofa payment and £30 for a cleaner (they come every two weeks so subject to the number of weeks in the month this sometimes works out slightly more). Our Wi-Fi, car insurance and petrol are covered by P’s employer. Subscriptions: Spotify £9.99, gym membership £64, Southall Black Sisters donation £20.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Everyone in my family went to university so I never really considered not going. I did a humanities undergrad followed by a graduate diploma in law (GDL). I then did the legal practice course (LPC), which you need to do in order to qualify as a solicitor in the UK. I can’t say I ever had a burning desire to do law but had no idea what I wanted to do after finishing university and law seemed like an interesting option. I received a student loan for my tuition fees and my parents paid for my maintenance costs and for my GDL and LPC. 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I don’t remember having many discussions about money growing up. We were comfortable and my parents have always worked. They are savers rather than spenders so I’m not sure where I get my spending streak from. 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents' or guardians' house? 
I moved out when I left for university at 18 but went back at 21 after graduating. After doing my GDL and LPC I moved out for good at 24. 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
Probably when I moved out at 24. While P and I split our mortgage and bill payments equally, he pays for a lot more than I do when it comes to our house renovations, eating out and holidays. I sometimes find the fact that P effectively subsidises my lifestyle uncomfortable but try to remind myself that our relationship isn’t transactional and that I contribute to our life in non-financial ways. 
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I had a part-time job at Sainsbury's when I was 17 for some extra cash but quit after a few months to focus on studying for my AS levels.
Do you worry about money now?
Sometimes. P and I are comfortable but we have an expensive year coming up. We desperately need new windows (we live in a freezing cold, single-glazed Edwardian property) and we have a wedding to pay for (what is a wedding without a gospel choir?), both of which come with some hefty costs. We’re also planning on having kids in the next couple of years and, somewhat unreasonably, I also want us to enjoy some fun and extravagant holidays before we settle down.  
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? 
My grandma left me £26,000, all of which went towards my house deposit. My grandma was like a second mother to me and so it goes without saying that I would give every penny of it back to have her here today. 

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