Money Diaries logo

Money Diary: A Data Analyst In London On £40,700

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last penny.
This week: "I'm 22 years old and work as an analyst in the science sector. I moved to London for uni and stayed for a graduate degree after finishing my bachelor's. I started my job last September after finishing my MSc. I’m doing a graduate scheme at the moment and am committed to doing the full two years and using the job security to focus on taking care of my physical and mental health after a difficult master's year.
I met my boyfriend, K, during undergrad and moved in with him in September after we both finished our master's degrees. For now, we’re both quite happy in London but we probably will move away (either back to the US or potentially somewhere new) once we reach mid-senior titles in our respective jobs. I grew up in a high-earning household and with very open parents, and I am privileged to have a very unproblematic relationship with finances. I’m not anxious about money (and am lucky to have found an above-average wage straight out of uni) but K is from a completely different background. Together we're learning the best way to budget and how to approach spending and talking about money with each other's families. K and I budget and save separately but contribute equal amounts to household expenses and holidays. I’ve got a monthly budget based on the UK Personal Finance Reddit flowchart (a gem!) and I am currently saving up a one-year emergency fund of £15-20k."
Occupation: Data analyst 
Industry: STEM/Tech 
Age: 22 
Location: London, UK 
Salary: £40,700 
Paycheque amount: £2,649.78 after tax/NI, pension and Cyclescheme contributions.
Number of housemates: One: my boyfriend, K. 
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses 
Housing costs: £925 for rent and wi-fi.
Loan payments: None. 
Savings? I pay into three separate pots each month, the totals sit at: £5,509 emergency fund, £2,481 LISA, £603 travel fund.
Pension? Yes, a DCP (defined contribution pension) which currently has £2,146.20 in it. My contributions started in November after I turned 22 and I pay in £423.48 each month. There’s no employer match as the payment comes from a ‘flexible benefits’ bonus each month. 
Utilities: £50 heating/hot water, £116 council tax, £40 water and £56 electricity. We also pay into a joint account for groceries and entertainment.
All other monthly payments: £10 phone, £6.17 cycle insurance, £60 therapy, £83.33 Cyclescheme (which comes out of my pre-tax pay). Subscriptions: £6.99 Mubi, £2 NYT, £1.59 Google, £5 Monzo Plus, £3 Santander Edge (this gets me just under 6% interest on savings and 1% cashback for bills, very worth it).
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it? 
I did a three-year BSc and a one-year MSc. My parents paid my fees and living costs throughout; I’m very lucky to have had their support! I did also work part-time during uni but that money went more towards entertainment/travel.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
My mother worked in a finance-related job so we definitely spoke a lot about it. Money wasn’t tight for my family but we did have two ‘emergencies’ which required a lot of legal expenses (my parents sold assets to cover these). When I was a teenager my parents gave me a monthly pre-filled debit card and encouraged me to budget with that to cover my transportation to school and going out. The biggest talks we had about money were when I went off to uni and my parents helped me set up a budget based on the living costs guide from the university — this was super helpful and I use a similar system to this day. We also had another big money talk during COVID when my dad considered retiring early. Because we were all at home at the time, I just ended up included in my parents’ money conversations and now know quite a lot about retirement planning.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
At 17, when I went to uni. 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life? 
I would say 21, when I moved out of my uni house and into the flat with my boyfriend. I paid the deposit and moving costs with money I had saved from part-time work, and I received my first salary the month I moved in. My parents sometimes help cover travel for family trips but otherwise I’m now in charge of all my own expenses.
What was your first job and why did you get it? 
When I was 14, someone asked me to cat-sit and I then got asked by a few other people every summer to do the same. They usually paid me £75 a week, so not much but really good for a teenager!
Do you worry about money now? 
No, thankfully K and I both have very secure jobs and great pay, plus we know we can count on our families if things get rough. 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
I have £3,000 in an account linked to my parents' bank, which they gave me access to in my uni days for emergencies. Luckily I did not ever need this and it now counts as a backup emergency fund. It would be great to never use it and put it in an account for my own kid(s) one day or use it for a good cause.