Money Diary: A 29-Year-Old Comms Executive In Manchester On 25.5k

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 29-year-old living in Manchester, working in communications. I moved to the city a little under two years ago to live with my girlfriend, R. We rent a furnished two-bedroom flat which unfortunately is set up for two sharers rather than a couple. The huge bed in the spare room is the bane of our life! To get ourselves some more space (and get on the property ladder), we’re currently in the process of buying a flat. We’re very lucky to have supportive parents and our deposit is coming as a gift, 50/50 from each half. This really is a blessing because without it, buying would be a fair way off for us. We’re hoping to complete in the next couple of months, although the house-buying process remains a mystery to us, honestly. Nobody ever tells you how long and stressful the timeline is!
 
Over the past couple of months I’ve been trying to make a huge decision about whether to take a dramatic career change which would see my salary drop and leave me without a paycheque for a few months this summer. Just before starting this diary I decided (for a variety of reasons, not just financial) not to take that leap. The savings I currently have would’ve part-funded that gap in income; instead they'll be used towards an emergency fund and anything we need to do in the short term to the flat once we move in."
 
Industry: Communications
Age: 29
Location: Manchester
Salary: £25,500
Paycheque amount: £1,659.24 after pension, tax and student loan deductions.
Number of housemates: Just the one: R, my girlfriend, who I’m currently buying a flat with.
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: My half of the rent is £425. This is really reasonable for the area, which is a big reason we’ve stayed despite the lack of space.
Loan payments: Student loan payments come out of my salary each month (around £38) but otherwise no loans.
Utilities: R and I split the bills and my half of each direct debit comes to £30.45 for electric, £13.47 for water and £76.50 for council tax. Internet is £17.99 each and is generally reliable until about 10.30 at night!
Transportation: Probably around £5-10 on petrol at the moment but will increase if we go back to the office. £13.65 for my half of the car insurance, as we share a car. 
Phone bill: £10 with Giffgaff. Until October I was in a 24-month contract with EE at about £60 a month, paying off the price of the phone. That ending and moving onto a SIM-only deal has been amazing.
Savings? About £2,000 across a savings account and Monzo pots (which I’ve only started using in the last month. I always shied away from Monzo but now think it’s a great tool!). I’ve just finished paying off the credit card debt (around £3,000 all in) I accumulated living in London, on a lower salary with double the rent I pay now. Saving properly is relatively new to me but I’m now aiming to put away a few hundred or so a month because the big 3-0 is looming and I want to get sensible!
Other: R and I share the TV/streaming costs – we have a TV licence (£13.12 a month but just about to go up) and subscribe to Netflix (£5.99) and Hayu (£4.99). I’m still on my mum’s Amazon Prime (thank you, Mum!) and pay £9.99 for Spotify and 79p for iCloud storage. R and I also have a National Trust membership (£10 a month shared) and a subscription to a book box from Words and Kisses, an online romance bookshop. For £12.99 a month, they send a curated pick in the post, wrapped beautifully, and it’s always a joy to open. £8.55 every other week for coffee beans.

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