Money Diary: A 30-Year-Old Civil Servant On 39.5k

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 30-year-old civil servant originally from Scotland. I’ve lived in London for the past seven years and moved down here for better job opportunities after graduating. I never intended to stay in London this long but my 20s seem to have flown by. I decided to start renting a flat on my own at the end of last year. It’s a big sacrifice to my salary so I did a lot of thinking before taking the plunge. My mental health began to struggle at the end of 2021 and I wanted to see if leaving a flatshare and getting my own space would help me work some things out.
I’ve always lived fairly frugally and prefer saving money. I try to cycle or walk most places in London and rarely buy new clothes so my main outgoings are rent, household bills, food and socialising. I also have bad acne and irregular periods as a result of having PCOS so I end up spending more on skincare and supplements to keep these symptoms at bay. The rise in the cost of living is making me worry about the next few months so I’m trying to keep an eye on my spending and learn more about how I can save for the future."
Occupation: Civil servant
Industry: Civil service
Age: 30
Location: London
Salary: £39,598
Paycheque amount: £2,410.45
Number of housemates: 0
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £1,300 rent.
Loan payments: £0
Pension? £179.84 per month.
Savings? I put £200 a month into a cash ISA. I’ve managed to save £16,400 over the few years and I started a Stocks and Shares ISA in 2020, which has £500 in it. 
Utilities: Council tax £126, water £27.85, electric £57, gas £28.33, internet £18.99, contents insurance £16.52, TV licence £13.25.
All other monthly payments: Phone contract £28. Subscriptions: Amazon Prime £7.99, Apple extra storage £2.49. Toilet roll subscription £40 every eight or nine months.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I studied history at university. I'm really lucky that I grew up in Scotland, which meant that there were no university fees. I was also in a privileged position because my parents were able to support me throughout my four-year degree. I had odd jobs throughout my time at uni but ultimately they paid my rent and helped with my living expenses until I got a full-time job after graduating.
 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
Growing up my parents spoke a lot about 'paying off their credit cards' and never being as 'financially literate' as their friends. They chose to settle in a rural part of Scotland and bought a house which needed quite a bit of work done to it. We went to a school where friends seemed to regularly go on foreign holidays and always had new cars, whereas we enjoyed one summer holiday in the UK, had a house full of animals and ancient old cars. We didn't have conversations about money as a family but I think my parents' conversations about debt made me anxious. I always wanted to save money instead of spending it.
 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
When I was 17 to go to uni.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
After uni I got a job with a temping agency while I worked out what I wanted to do next. I was 21 and started paying my own rent without any parental support so I would say this is when I became financially independent. My financial safety net is the money I've saved into my ISA: £16,400. My parents are both retired and I'm really grateful they have stepped in in the past when I've needed some support (I was temporarily unemployed for three months when I was 26) but I'd hate to have to rely on them again. I want them to enjoy their retirement and not worry about me.
 
What was your first job and why did you get it?
Throughout school I babysat for families who lived nearby then began to get some odd seasonal work as a waitress with a catering company in the summer holidays. When I was at uni I went on a year abroad where I got my first proper bar job. From then on I worked in cafes and after uni I lived in the French Alps, working as a cook.
 
Do you worry about money now?
Yes, I've become much more anxious about money now that I live on my own and because of the soaring cost of living. I had never intended to live on my own in London but my mental health began to struggle during the pandemic and I needed my own space. After I've paid my monthly bills I have roughly £140 a week to live off in terms of food, travel and socialising. I'm finding this increasingly hard to do in London and have to turn down some social occasions when I know I just can't afford it.
 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
My grandparents left me and my sister some bonds (around £500 each) but any other inherited money from them was given to my parents.

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