Money Diary: An Events Producer In London 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 32-year-old events producer working in the arts. I have been living in London for around 10 years. I’m originally from Scandinavia but grew up moving around the world due to my parents' jobs. I moved to the UK to study when I was 18 and eventually ended up in London for my master's. I’ve always been very career-focused and consider myself lucky to work in an industry that’s also my passion. Before COVID I specialised in producing events around arts programmes and decided to take the leap to go freelance in March 2020, a week or so before the UK went into lockdown. In hindsight, not the best timing (cue many weeks of self-doubt and crying) but I miraculously landed a freelance gig which saw me through the pandemic. After freelancing I pivoted to focus on visual arts and am currently on a maternity cover contract, as I thought that safety net would be helpful as we transition out of the pandemic.
After three very lonely lockdowns, I moved six months ago to an area of London that I've wanted to live in for years. My rent and living costs have gone up significantly but it’s all been worth it to live near my friends and within walking/cycling distance of all my favourite neighbourhoods. As a single thirtysomething in London it's expensive paying for everything on my own but I’ve been determined to prove that you don’t need a partner to live in the city. I’m trying to strike a balance between living my best life while living within my means every month."
Occupation: Events producer
Industry: Arts and culture
Age: 32
Location: London
Salary: £35,000
Paycheque amount: £2,288
Number of housemates: None
Pronouns: She/her
 
Monthly Expenses
 
Housing costs: £845 for a studio flat.
Loan payments: £0
Savings? £2,800 in a cash ISA, £31,000 in a UK savings account (£12,000 of which is set aside for paying taxes from freelancing in 20/21. I'm super proud of these savings as most of them were put aside in the year I was freelancing). £3,000 in a child savings account (my parents gave this to all their children to access when they turned 18 but I haven't touched mine yet). £450 in a bank account at home (which I use as spending money when I visit to avoid the terrible exchange rate). £1,900 in stocks.
Pension? My employer automatically contributes 8% pension regardless of whether we choose to match this or not. I've chosen not to contribute for now as this is a short-term contract and my living costs have increased since moving in on my own.
Utilities: Council tax with single person discount £80, water £22.50, electric £50-£100 (varies depending on the time of year), Wi-Fi £18.
All other monthly expenses: Phone and travel insurance £10 (through my bank). Subscriptions: Netflix £5.99, Now TV £4.99, Spotify £9.99, ClassPass £35 (although I often end up buying extra points). During the summer I also pay £35 monthly for access to a local reservoir and pools for swimming.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Higher education is free in my home country (and a master's is seen as the norm) and years ago they had a reciprocal agreement with EU countries. As such the state paid for both my undergraduate and master's. I also received a monthly stipend of about £500 throughout my studies which covered living costs, and my parents paid for my accommodation. I had to submit transcripts of my grades every six months to prove I was passing – with the understanding that if I failed or didn’t complete the course I’d have to pay back my whole stipend to the government. This has all changed since Brexit but I feel very lucky not to have any student loans.
 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
My parents were transparent about money and I've always felt fortunate enough to have support from them if needed, although their financial situation changed drastically during COVID. I do wish I'd been taught more about investing and am trying to educate myself on this.

If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out of home at 17 and have paid day-to-day living costs and bills since then.
 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself?
My parents paid for my accommodation while I was studying (within a strict budget – we always chose the most affordable option). I became fully financially independent at 22 when I finished my master's.
 
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked every summer from the age of 14 in a local restaurant as a waitress for pocket money. I also worked throughout my bachelor's as a waitress to earn enough to supplement my stipend throughout the year. During my master's in London I worked three jobs and did three unpaid internships, which led to a job straight out of university in my industry.

Do you worry about money now?
All the time. I chose my career out of passion rather than what would earn me a lot of money but recently it's been eye-opening seeing friends who aren’t in the arts hugely surpass my salary range. I'm currently considering whether I should change career paths and retrain in something non-arts-related to eventually earn more money. COVID was a reality check for anyone working in the arts (especially live events) and I’m worried about going freelance again if another lockdown happens.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
My grandfather left all of his grandchildren £800 in stocks when he passed over 10 years ago, which has since grown to £1,900.

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