Money Diary: A Charity Helpline Worker On 21.5k

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 women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period – and we're tracking every last penny.
This week: "I'm a 28-year-old who currently works for a women’s charity in Bristol in one of their triage services. Since the first lockdown I’ve been through a whole load of BIG changes in my life. Pre-pandemic I was working as a wholesale account manager in the gift industry in London. When the pandemic hit I took working from home really badly and realised that my job was the cause of most of the issues. I moved out of London and back in with my parents, with the general idea to go travelling. It was around this time that I started dating my girlfriend, which then affected my decision to move to Bristol instead. I lived with one of my best friends for a year and moved in with my girlfriend in March of this year. I absolutely love my new job even though it’s a lot more intense than soft toys and I’m realising it’s actually a lot less stressful. I took a pretty big pay cut for my current job but I feel more at home in this industry and would really love to make some progress within my team and the company I work for."
Occupation: Triage helpline worker
Industry: Charity 
Age: 28
Location: Bristol  
Salary: £21,500
Paycheque amount: £1,488
Number of housemates: Two: girlfriend, L, and our cat, M.
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses 
 
Housing costs: I’m incredibly privileged to live with my girlfriend who owns our flat. I don’t pay directly towards the mortgage as she only purchased the flat last year but I do match her mortgage payment towards the upkeep on the flat or little improvements we want to do. This works out at £390 per month. We’re currently saving for a new fridge and some fitted wardrobes!
Loan payments: I don’t earn enough to pay my student loan back but I have around £2,500 on a credit card. I pay back at least double the minimum each month, around £150.
Savings? I’ve got £700 in various savings accounts (including Monzo pots) for holidays and a separate birthdays pot as over the next few years my friends are all turning 30, which I know already is going to be a big strain on my finances. 
Utilities: TV licence £32, water £35, gas and electricity £235, council tax £130, broadband and TV £45.
Pension? I have a pension and contribute £56.10 each month.
All other monthly payments: SIM only phone contract £12.99. Pet insurance £6. Car tax £24.66 (I paid my last insurance in one go but may have to pay monthly after the renewal). Subscriptions: Disney+ £7.99. Amazon Prime £35 annually.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? How did you pay for it?
I went to uni when I was 19 for three years. I had a student loan and some maintenance support, which varied each year as my dad is self-employed and his income changed quite drastically while I was there. I started paying this off in my last job because I was earning over the threshold but I took an £8k pay cut when I started my current role and haven’t paid any since January 2021.  
 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I don’t remember having any conversations about money when I was young. I used to get some pocket money as and when I had plans to do something with friends but was never expected to save or to earn pocket money. I completely acknowledge this is an incredibly privileged position to be in. When I was older and started earning money myself my mum told me not to get a credit card but that was pretty much it. 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I left home when I was 19 and went to uni, having lived with my parents during my gap year. I was adamant that I would never move back home but it became clear during the pandemic that it would be best for me and my mental health. I lived there for six months before moving to Bristol and living with my girlfriend temporarily in January 2021 and then moving permanently to my own flat in April 2021.  
 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I would say I became financially responsible for myself when I went to uni. I worked multiple jobs to pay for going out and to top up my student loan. My parents covered my rent once when I had just finished uni. They gave me money towards a deposit and some money here and there when I was working a minimum wage job. I am incredibly grateful to have had them as a support net when needed and know how much of a privileged position this puts me in. 
 
What was your first job and why did you get it?
When I was 16 I worked Saturdays in Boots. My parents were pretty clear that once I could get a job I should, to pay for my dance classes and costumes. I’ve always had at least one job since then (at one point during uni I had three, which was definitely too much) until I left my last job in January 2021. I was unemployed for about three months before temping for a month and then getting my current job.
 
Do you worry about money now?
I definitely go through phases of being really concerned about money. I don’t feel I’ve got used to earning so much less than I did and definitely splurge on eating out more often than I should.  
 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I would say I have. I lived with my parents for six months on an extremely minimal amount and in the past they bought me a car and paid for my first year's insurance.

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