Money Diary: A Biomedical Scientist In Manchester On 42k

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 am an NHS hospital laboratory worker living in south Manchester with my partner and two fur babies. We bought our house three years ago and have been gradually doing it up ever since. I am a keen marathon runner so spent a large proportion of my free time this winter training in the freezing cold and rain. Now that races are cancelled for the foreseeable future, I wish I’d spent more of that time in pubs and restaurants with friends and family. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
I’ve worked as a biomedical scientist for the last 10 years and have been in my current role for five. Working in a large specialist laboratory, I get to see a wide variety of cases and interact with a large cohort of staff. I think biomedical scientists and other laboratory workers are easily forgotten about as we are hidden away behind the scenes, but the testing we do helps inform around 80% of decisions made by the clinical area. The work of the laboratory is being highlighted more during the current pandemic so it is nice to see more recognition for our role (although I wish it wasn’t due to these circumstances)."
Occupation: Senior biomedical scientist
Industry: NHS
Age: 33
Location: Manchester
Salary: £41,723
Paycheque amount: Usually around £2,400 after tax, National Insurance, NHS pension (9.3%) and student loan contribution. The exact amount varies depending on how many out-of-hours or extra shifts I have worked the previous month.
Number of housemates: Three: two cats and one fiancé.
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: My fiancé M and I live in a three-bed semi in south Manchester. My half of the mortgage is £378.
Loan payments: £2,400 on an interest-free credit card. The balance has gone up and down over the years, starting with funding my master’s degree 10 years ago. Then unexpected large bills arrive so I’ve never quite cleared it (my old and tired car being the main culprit, I just can’t get rid of him yet). I have two cards and always transfer the balance if I’m not able to pay it off in full prior to the interest-free period ending. I pay £200 each month to my credit card and £200 for student loan repayments, which should finally be gone by the end of the year.
Utilities: My half of all the bills works out at £72 for council tax, £16 for water, £40 for gas and electric, £25 for TV/phone/internet, £4 for Netflix and £15 for pet insurance. Along with our mortgage, these all come out of our joint account, which we both pay £1,000 into each month. The rest goes on food, bits for the house and garden and any fun things we want to do, which usually revolve around eating out with friends – something I am really missing at the moment! Any remaining money gets put into our savings or towards our mortgage.
Savings? I have approximately £10,000 in a joint savings account with my fiancé which is primarily our wedding fund. A lot of this was meant to be going out to our suppliers over the next month but sadly we have to postpone to next summer due to the pandemic. We will need to look into what is best to do with this money in the meantime and are continuing to add to the pot for the next year so we can start saving for further house improvements.
All other monthly expenses: £250 into the wedding fund/savings. £28 car insurance, £14 union membership, £14 Institute of Biomedical Science membership, £7.20 life insurance (why do my cats cost more than me?!), £6 bike insurance, £40 phone bill (I know I could find a better deal but I’m inherently lazy with this kind of thing, plus I now have unlimited data until October for being NHS so will probably sort it out after that ends) and £25.99 gym membership (currently on hold while the gym is closed). I drive to work and usually have to pay for parking (£32) but this has been suspended for the next three months while we all deal with the pandemic. Petrol/diesel we fund from the joint account but while M is also classed as a key worker, his job can be done at home so we are only spending about £30 a month at present.