A 28-Year-Old Civil Servant In London On £33,000

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 28-year-old civil servant living in southeast London. I moved into my current apartment with my boyfriend, T, 18 months ago. We are now, very excitingly, at the start of our search to become homeowners (and hopefully dog owners soon after). My role in the civil service was my first 'professional' job after university but I had lots of work experience before that in hospitality, teaching English, freelance editing and as an au pair, having worked (and saved!) since I was a young teenager. I never really planned for this career but the pandemic changed my plans a little as I wasn’t able to move abroad when I graduated.
I’m definitely a saver, though now I earn a stable salary I’m trying to allow myself to enjoy the money. Being in a relationship has definitely helped with that and I really enjoy making plans to do things and go to places just for the fun of it rather than thinking, Do I need to do this? Other than housing costs, my main spend is usually on food. There are so many great places to eat in London and it’s one of my favourite things to do with friends."
Occupation: Civil servant 
Industry: Public service 
Age: 28 
Location: London 
Salary: £33,000 
Paycheque amount: £2,044
Number of housemates: One: I live with my boyfriend, T.
Pronouns: She/her 
Monthly Expenses 
Housing costs: £1,350 rent for our two-bedroom flat in London. I pay £550 and my boyfriend pays £800 as his salary is higher than mine. 
Loan payments: £42 undergraduate loan. I paid off my £4,500 postgraduate loan in a one-off payment earlier this year after reading an article about it being cheaper in the long run. 
Pension: I pay 5.45% into my pension and my employer contributes 27.1%. My monthly pension payment works out at approx. £150 a month. 
Savings? £14,000, £32,000 ISA, £9,000 Help to Buy. I started working full-time in the summer holidays aged 16 and have saved slowly ever since.
Utilities: My boyfriend and l split all household bills equally. £150 council tax, £150 gas/electricity, £150 direct debit, £23.50 wi-fi, £14 TV licence.
All other monthly payments: £18 phone contract, £24 netball membership. Subscriptions: £2.99 Apple storage, £3.49 bike insurance. 
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Yes, I studied an undergraduate and postgraduate degree, both funded through student tuition and maintenance loans. My parents gave me £100 a month while I was a student and I worked every holiday to fund living costs. 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I was taught the value of hard work and saving from a young age. I was very aware that money was hard-earned and once it had gone, it had gone. As a fairly mature child, I feel like I lived some of my dad's money worries from a young age. We never struggled to put food on the table but I knew that Dad worked very hard to give us everything we wanted so I was grateful. Mum earned a far smaller salary but had a more relaxed outlook on money. I think it was a perfect combination — I learned to work hard and save but also to enjoy the money I spend. 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house? 
I moved out and lived in Europe when I was 19, moving straight to uni after that. I stayed with my parents during uni holidays and very briefly during the pandemic but never moved back in properly. 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life? 
I was largely financially independent when I moved out at 19. My parents gave me £100 a month while I was at uni but I wasn’t dependent on that.  
What was your first job and why did you get it? 
I started babysitting when I was 13/14 but I got my first 'real job' when I'd just turned 16. I worked every day of the summer holidays, filling nail varnish bottles and packing orders for beauty salons. I got my first paycheque (£750) at the end and I thought I'd won the lottery! 
Do you worry about money now? 
I worry less about money now than I did when I was younger but do still get a bit stressed if I’ve had a heavy spending week. As a child I worried a lot more, even though my parents were never really struggling financially. I was the kind of child who saved an art kit or a pack of stickers because I didn't want to waste them (I ended up throwing out the never-touched sets aged 19 because they'd all dried out) and I was the same with money. With birthday or pocket money, I was always thinking, What if I buy this and then see something better? This meant I tended to save a lot and buy very little. You could call it non-committal. 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
No, I’ve never inherited any money.