Money Diary: A Business Owner In Liverpool On 17k

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 28 and I live in Liverpool, which is where I’ve based myself for the last 10 years. I came here to study at university and instantly fell in love with the city and the INCREDIBLY friendly people who live here. I adore the north and would find it pretty difficult to leave now.
I am a director and business owner (that still sounds really weird when I say it) alongside my fiancée, J. We run a creative agency and business school. About 18 months ago, I was working 50 plus hours a week in the corporate world, managing co-working spaces; around a year and a half into the job, I had a spectacular breakdown. My GP signed me off work for a month with burnout, anxiety and stress and I never returned. 
During that time off work, I watched J pushing her freelance career from home and decided I wanted the same freedom too. Once I was feeling a little bit more myself, I began to take on some freelance work of my own, returning to the marketing and social media skills I had developed in my role before corporate. Prior to managing co-working, I had worked as a marketing and engagement officer at a national charity and absolutely loved it so I began the hunt for a part-time job in the third sector to act as an ‘income safety net’ until my freelance work was more consistent.
A couple of months after my breakdown, I found myself juggling two part-time charity-sector roles with freelance work on top and was back in my stride, embracing the challenge. I kept this up for around six months before taking another huge leap to join J in running our creative agency, which she had been holding down alone for two years or so.
Now we both work on our business (from home) and it has worked wonders for my mental health! I still struggle with my anxiety but having the autonomy to decide who I work with, when I work and what I work on is something I wouldn’t give up for the world. 
Over the last five years or so, I had racked up £5,500 in debt from various overdrafts, loans and credit cards and didn’t really have anything to show for it. Living with J, who is impeccably measured with money, has never had a dot of debt in her life and plenty to show for it, I realised I needed to up my game – and I did! Last summer I was able to pay off the entirety of my debt and for the first time in my adult life, I am completely debt-free. Now we are throwing all our energy into scaling our business, expanding our revenue streams and building some savings, while still enjoying our life in lockdown (i.e. a few Deliveroos and fresh pyjamas)."
Industry: Creative/Digital
Age: 28
Location: Liverpool
Salary: £16,800 a year, after tax. We pay ourselves a base wage and profits above this go into the business. We also receive dividends on occasion throughout the year in accordance with business profits. 
Paycheque amount: £1,400 on average per month. 
Number of housemates: Three: my fiancée (J), our tiny dog (V) and massive cat (L).
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £515 for my half of the rent. Admittedly we could have pulled back on this a bit but we live in a very central apartment, right on the water. We absolutely ADORE it and it’s our complete sanctuary. I’ve moved home a lot in the last 10 years so I’m finally happy to settle here for a good few years while we save up for a deposit (and decide where we want to make that investment).
Loan payments: Just student loan payments which come out of my wages automatically. 
Utilities: There are a lot of these and this is my half of everything… £19.50 for electricity, £15 for gas and water, £95.50 for council tax, £6.60 for TV licence, £13.50 for internet, £9.19 for home and contents insurance, £5 for our NatWest joint account but we do get phone and travel insurance through this as well as cashback, £17.70 for pet insurance, £18.34 for V’s fancy tailored dog food subscription, £7.50 for Spotify family, £28 for a mattress on finance and £32.50 for our dining table and chairs on finance, £30 for contact lenses, £3 for Apple storage. And £15 split between three charities (AKT which supports LGBTQ+ homeless young people, Guide Dogs and the Anthony Walker Foundation).
Transportation: £15.50 for my half of our car insurance (we share a car with J’s mum).
Phone bill: £56.48. Must. Get. Better. Phone. Bill. Price.
Savings? £5,000 in various pots of our business bank account. All of our money stays in the business where we can build it up for use in expanding.
Other: N/A

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series