Money Diary: A Civil Service Worker In Brighton On 35k

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 26-year-old civil servant living in Brighton. My partner, C, and I moved down to the coast a few months ago after struggling throughout the pandemic and looking for a different pace of life. Having lived together for two and a half years and now working from home, we decided to pack up and head for a comically small, sea view flat. Despite brief periods of loneliness being so far from friends and family, it’s the best thing we could have done and I feel so lucky to have my dream happen. We do have long-term goals of buying a house with a garden and room for a family but have prioritised being close to the city centre so we are renting for now as we continue to save.
I am very anxious when it comes to money, always wondering if I am spending too much, saving too much and not enjoying my 20s like I should, or worrying what would happen if either of our incomes dried up. But I am absolutely an impulse shopper, forever lured by the items in the till queues. Would I like a giant bar of Dairy Milk for just £1? Yes, please!" 
Occupation: Project manager
Industry: Civil service
Age: 26
Location: Brighton
Salary: £35k
Paycheque amount: £2,144
Number of housemates: One: my partner, C.
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
 
Housing costs: £637.50 my half of the rent. C is massively underpaid for what he does and earns £25k. I put £200 more into the joint account for food and bills but largely we split everything equally. I pay for petrol and try to get treats where I can to even things up.
Pension? I pay about 4% and my employer tops it up to a decent career average pension.
Loan payments: None.
Savings? £30k in ISAs, £2,800 in short-term savings accounts.
Utilities:
£75 my half of council tax, £15.80 water, £48.50 gas and electric, £12.50 internet.
All other monthly payments: £38 phone. £220 yearly parking permit and visitor permits, £260 car insurance. Subscriptions: £8 Netflix, £14 Spotify, £8 Cricut access. £28 Calm app yearly.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I hated school and couldn’t wait to get out of there so I didn't attend university. Instead I have done quite a few professional qualifications and taken evening classes. Some have been self-funded, some my parents paid for and some my employers contributed to.
 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
We didn’t talk much about money growing up. I was aware that my parents both had tough financial upbringings and they worked hard to ensure me and my siblings weren’t in the same situation. But it was never really spoken about. My mum was much more careful about what we spent and when I was older I could tell that she was worrying about money.
 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out at 23 with my partner, C.
 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I moved into a rented flat at 23 so I would probably say then. However, my parents supported me when I was furloughed for eight months during the pandemic and are supporting me through the next few months with such a sharp increase in the cost of living. So if I’m honest I am not sure I count as financially responsible for myself, although I trust I could be if I needed to.
 
What was your first job and why did you get it?
Stacking shelves in a shop – I absolutely loved it! I started work at 17 to fund driving lessons and at the time I thought £7 an hour was so much money.
 
Do you worry about money now?
I never worried about money growing up and I was shielded from any worries my family had. But I worry about money all the time now. I don’t worry so much about the day-to-day spending as I trust we will get by but I worry about the future and whether we’ll ever be able to afford a home, or how we’ll manage if we have to reduce to one income.
 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
No inheritance but instead of supporting me through university, my parents bought my first car, which I loved so much. Since the cost of fuel has increased so dramatically, they have sent me £100 a month to help with coming back to see family and friends regularly. I am incredibly grateful for this. I know I could reduce my savings and manage without but they insisted they wanted to help.

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