Money Diary: A Consulting Manager In London On 83k

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 31-year-old consulting manager living in London. I grew up in Hong Kong and left when I was 18 for university in the US. This was paid for by my mum (and child support from my dad) but I worked part-time for four years to cover day-to-day living expenses. After getting my undergrad degree, I spent a few years working in southeast Asia. I've always wanted to live in the UK so decided the best way to make the switch was to do an MBA. I arrived four years ago.
My parents divorced when I was quite young, so my sister and I were essentially raised by a single working mother. My mum has always been my role model and everything I've learned about 'adulting' comes from observing her and putting myself in her shoes. When I started my first job, one of the first financial products I purchased was private insurance, because having a safety net allows me to confidently pursue other goals. My family have very open, transparent conversations about money, including the ups and downs of our respective investments (you can imagine our lively conversations in March/April when the pandemic hit).
In my early 20s I had a more carefree attitude to money and it did get me into trouble. As an expat, my rent in Singapore was paid by my company, which gave me quite an excuse to spend my paycheque frivolously on travelling, shopping and going out. I was also into designer shoes and handbags and accumulated £5k debt. Luckily I woke up before the debt grew out of hand, and quickly started paying it off."
Industry: Professional services firm
Age: 31
Location: London
Salary: £83,200
Paycheque amount: £4,300
Number of housemates: 0
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £1,550 for a two-bedroom flat in east London. I know this is excessive for one person but having a spare room as an office / storage / workout area has been a blessing during lockdown.
Loan payments: £550 student loan for my MBA degree. £400 remaining on John Lewis furniture purchase.
Savings? £16,000 in Stocks and Shares ISA (Nutmeg), £10,600 in LISA (Nutmeg), £6,400 in Help to Buy ISA via my main bank account, though I consider this as an emergency fund. £1,000 in a Monzo cash pot that I've set aside and top up with the remaining balance in my main bank account at the end of each month, I transfer this into my LISA once it reaches £4,000. £10,000 (equivalent) in an investment-linked life insurance bought when I was 24. This is my back-up emergency fund and I don't plan to touch this unless absolutely necessary. I'm a firm believer in spreading risk and maintaining a balanced portfolio of liquid vs less liquid assets. Once a year, I review my overall finances and update my monthly budget. This is done through Excel and includes a projection of my savings for the next three years.
All other monthly expenses: £600 Nutmeg, £200 Help to Save ISA, £140 investment-linked insurance. £1,300 critical illness insurance, paid annually. £68 council tax, £23 internet, £15.35 bi-weekly veg box subscription, £60 for gas, electricity, water, £9.99 Spotify. £79 a year for Prime. My sister, A, pays for Netflix. £6 phone bill – my company pays my work phone bill and that's what I use most of the time, but I choose to still keep a personal phone. £180 pole dancing classes. I opted to pay my instructor for private Zoom classes when the studio was closed but this week I'm finally going back to the studio! £32 per week zone 1-2 Citymapper pass, currently on pause.
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