Money Diary: A 30-Year-Old Civil Servant On 53k

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 queer woman living in London with a needy (and very cute) cat. My girlfriend and I have been together for two years and we’re planning to move in together later this year, which will have a big impact on both our finances. Mostly we’re fairly tame: we like to play board games, eat junk food and watch Drag Race. Work-wise, I’m a civil servant and have spent much of the last 18 months supporting the COVID response. Outside of work, I’m a writer and a part-time MA student of creative writing. I recently bought a one-bed shared ownership flat and I’m currently rebuilding my savings after the move. I'm also paying off some credit card debt from when I first moved to London and earned £15k for a while. I try to save regularly but also don't mind spending some money on the things I enjoy."
Occupation: Civil servant
Industry: Government 
Age: 30
Location: London
Salary: £53,000
Paycheque amount: £2,900
Number of housemates: None, but my girlfriend is often here as a very sweet leech. 
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
 
Housing costs: £371 mortgage, £593 rent.
Loan payments: I built up some debt when I first moved to London and only earned £15k. More recently I had some toxic housemates who refused to let me leave the tenancy without more than four months' notice. I couldn’t stay there so I used the card to double pay rent for a couple of months so that I could move out. Altogether this debt is currently £7,000. I also have £17,000 of government student loan debt and I pay this off monthly via payslip contributions. I then have another £200 (a holiday payment for a Caribbean trip in March 2022) and £200 on a 0% interest credit card.
Savings? £1,300. I also have my Monzo set to round up so all change goes in a pot for Christmas, which is £80 currently. 
Pension? I have a civil service pension. I contribute 5.45% of my salary and my employer contributes 27.9%.
Utilities: £30 internet, £22 gas and electric, £10 water, £171 council tax, £13.25 TV licence.
All other monthly expenses: £16 phone, £14 pet insurance, £11 contents insurance. Subscriptions: Netflix £7, Prime £8, Disney+ £7, Spotify £13, RNLI £10, MH Foundation £5, Guardian £5.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I did well in school and so I was always expected to go to university but I was the first from my family to go. I paid for it via the UK government’s student loan programme, though I went to uni in Scotland and before higher fees were introduced so my fees were around £1,500 per year. I also qualified for some living cost grants so had free funding from the government for rent etc. I also worked 20-25 hours at a local deli in term-time and full-time during the holidays.
 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
Most of the conversations I remember about money as a child were about how tight it was. "I’m not made of brass" was often said in our house. I don’t remember much of a specific education about finances other than it was useful to pay attention to supermarket buy-one-get-one-free offers. I had a part-time job from the age of 16 and used this to pay for a laptop and an expensive school trip to New York. 
 
My parents have never been in a position to support me financially but when I first moved to London and earned very little, conversations with my mum really helped me to be less stressed out about using credit when I needed it. She – wisely – stressed that not all credit is bad and as long as you keep up the repayments it can help you in a tight spot. Now, while my debt is higher than I’d like, I have a very good credit rating and I’ve always borrowed within my means. 
 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out when I went to university.
 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I became financially responsible for myself at 18. 
 
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was a weekend job at a local cafe when I was 16. I then got a part-time job in Clinton Cards and stayed there until I went to uni at 18.
 
Do you worry about money now?
At the moment I’m more financially secure than I’ve ever been. I bought a shared ownership flat last year, I’m able to save £200-£500 a month and I’m paying down my debt on a zero-interest card at £200 a month. I rarely worry about money but I feel guilty if I don’t put as much as I’d like in my savings account. 
 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? No.

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