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Money Diary: An Audit Senior Associate On £57,100

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 24-year-old audit senior associate, working for a big accounting firm in London. I’ve been doing the job for five and a half years, after joining as a school leaver at 18. It might seem like a bit of a rogue choice to become an accountant that young but I was able to get my ACA qualification and level 7 apprenticeship (equivalent to a master's) while working full-time and receiving a full salary. I’m starting to see what else is out there in the world of work now that I have a few solid years of experience under my belt.
A month ago I bought a flat on my own and with interest rates so high, it was a huge financial change. However, it’s been so lovely to give my two cats enough space to properly play. I’d been paying London rent for two years but I was lucky enough to have cheapish rent with bills included so paying a mortgage and bills is a big change! In terms of money, I have the stress levels of a saver but the impulses of a spender. I’m trying to learn how to spend responsibly while also having money for bills and the mortgage (very non-negotiable), which is a learning curve from previously, when I was able to save way more every month."
Occupation: Audit senior associate
Industry: Accounting/finance
Age: 24
Location: London
Salary: £57,100
Paycheque amount: £3,450 after tax
Number of housemates: Two cats (J and V)
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £1,280 in mortgage payments for my two-bedroom flat. I moved in last month and can’t afford to overpay at the moment, so paying the minimum. 
Pension? I have a pension through my employer, which I contribute 5% to, or £224.82 monthly, pre-tax. I’m very lucky that my work puts 7.5% in. I had to reduce my pension contributions in September last year because everything was getting very expensive. I appreciate why I need a pension but it does feel like it would be nice to have that money now.
Loan payments: I pay off my Amex monthly, normally between £500-1,000 at the end of the month. I put all my food shops, travel and fuel on there.
Savings? £6,000 main savings, £335 car insurance pot, £190 holiday savings, £80 fun savings.
Utilities: £65 water (which seems insanely expensive), £35 electricity on a prepayment meter, £0 on internet as I don’t yet have any.
All other monthly payments: £24 phone, £18.12 dental insurance (worth every penny as someone having quite a lot of dental work done). Subscriptions: £10.99 Spotify, £7.99 Disney+, £9.99 Amazon Prime, £8.99 Apple storage.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I joined a higher apprenticeship programme when I was 18 so I had no student loans. Frankly, the thought of the debt that university would put me into was a huge contributing factor for why I decided not to go! I had a place to study midwifery and sometimes I wonder how my life would have gone if I’d taken that path.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
Money in my house growing up was always a deeply stressful topic. Being raised by a single mother who worked part-time as a receptionist, money was always tight and I was always very aware of it. There were not many sensible conversations about living within your means or budgeting but there was a constant undercurrent of anxiety. The fear of not having money for rent or food or new school shoes has definitely followed me into adulthood. 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out a number of times due to a bad relationship when I was very young. I left at 19 and came back multiple times until 22. I have just moved into my own little two-bedroom flat (it’s really 1.5 bedrooms but I’m feeling generous) so I'm enjoying my own space for the first time in my life.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I started working when I was 18 and started to cover all my own costs but benefited from only having to pay my mum £150 a month in rent. When I moved in with previously mentioned awful boyfriend, we split all our mortgage and bills 50/50. Moving out (for the third time) when I was 22 was the first time when it was just me.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I was a swimming teacher when I was 13, which I loved and still miss to this day. I started on £12 an hour and got a pay rise of £1 each term, which wasn’t bad for a teenager and which mostly went to Forever 21 (RIP). I then became a lifeguard when I was 16.
Do you worry about money now?
Always! I find a lot of my time and energy is spent stressing on how much I am spending day to day, which hasn’t been helped by me buying property alone.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
My brother’s dad (it’s complicated) lent me £5,000 while I was buying the flat. This isn’t something which I expected to need but as mortgage rates rose, it was a desperate situation. I appreciate how lucky I was to be able to borrow this much and intend on paying it all back.