Money Diary: A 26-Year-Old Disabled Woman On Benefits In Emergency Accommodation

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 am a 26-year-old living in Kent. I stopped working two years ago due to my fibromyalgia getting worse, and various mental health issues.
I currently receive benefits and am in the process of my PIP (personal independence payment) appeal after it was denied. I got made homeless three months ago and have been in emergency accommodation provided by the council for the past three weeks. The council covers this rent. It’s extremely expensive and the private property management is raking it in, especially because the property is in such bad condition (mould everywhere, things not working, doors not locking properly). I’m here while I bid on properties on the council list. It’s an extremely stressful time, hence the going to bed so late and lots of TV. Also, where I’ve been housed is very far from my family and friends, so I’ve been pretty lonely. I do see my neighbours occasionally; we all share the same laundry room, front door, stairwell, and the property doesn’t get cleaned by management so essentially we are forced into a 'household', but we are protecting ourselves (wearing masks in each others presence etc), and I have actually since this diary stopped going into their flat for further protection.
I have noticed my spending being quite erratic during this pandemic in general and when I’ve been feeling depressed I tend to online purchase. I'm actually really grateful as while doing this money diary, I was more careful with my money overall. I don’t buy coffees out so I am glad I save money in that way. I’ve just started driving but only spend about £10 on petrol a week. I have about £1,200 in debt but I recently paid off the last £400 of my other debt, which feels amazing.
I would love to work if I could. Because of the complexity of my illness, some days I have good days and very bad days. In my last job I would be constantly calling in sick on the days I had crashes, which meant others saw me as an extremely unreliable employee. I would absolutely love to find part-time work writing online but have looked for that on and off for a long time and couldn’t get anything. So if anyone has any leads do please let me know!"
Industry: Unemployed/disabled
Age: 26
Location: Kent
Benefits: £650 per month (currently £750 per month due to the COVID benefit increase but this could be cut any day).
Number of housemates: None
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £1,100 rent. This is covered by the council.
Utilities: The electric is on a top-up meter, usually £40 a month. Water, council tax and internet is included in the property.
Phone bill: I use VOXI Unlimited £10 deal for people on benefits, it’s a lifesaver.
Savings? £3,400. This is leftover those savings from when I worked but I actually lent it to my sister for when she had to purchase her car a few months ago. She is in the process of paying me back a little each month, only £40 a month which I am trying to save for when I move home or have emergencies, but I don’t have the cash physically in my bank.
Other: Spotify: I use my dad's account. Netflix: I use my sister's account.
This diary was updated on 10/03/21 to clarify a few of OP's outgoings.

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