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Money Diary: A Finance Assistant On £25,000

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 a 28-year-old finance assistant working for a large retailer in Newcastle. I work full time, which is a juggle alongside my three children, A (7), S (5) and B (4), and while studying for the next level of my finance qualifications. Before this job, I was a stay-at-home mum from 2018 as we couldn’t justify the price of two children in nursery. We managed to live off my partner L’s wage, and I did some book-keeping for a family friend on the side which acted as my spending money. This is where I developed an interest in finance, so I started studying before landing my job last year. It was a big change to our family, but I am so pleased I made the decision both financially and for my mental health — I didn’t realise how much of a toll being at home all the time was taking on me, as I am a naturally social person. I am very lucky in that I work hybrid of two days at home and three in the office but it can be flexible if need to do an extra day at home. It has also been a shift in mine and L’s relationship, as he has had to take on extra childcare responsibilities and more of the mental load.”
Occupation: Finance assistant (I also do some freelance book-keeping.)
Industry: Retail
Age: 28
Location: Newcastle
Salary: £25,000
Paycheque Amount: £1,633.29 — plus ad-hoc amounts from book-keeping (approx. £200 per month) — and £210 child benefit.
Number of housemates: Four: my partner L and three children A, S and B
Pronouns: Ahe/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £400 for my half of mortgage
Loan payments: £100 for half of joint car loan.
Savings?: £200 personal savings
Utilities: £190 for half of gas/electricity; £10 for half of the broadband; £20 for half of the water bill.
Pension?: I pay in £59.03 a month, and my employer pays in £44.27. I keep meaning to see if I can up this, as I have only recently started paying into one and would like to catch it up a bit.
All other monthly payments : From our joint account we spend: £141 for both our phone contracts; £58.87 car; £30 car tax; £280 kids’ wraparound care; £100 kids swimming; £25 life insurance; £34.41 home insurance; £12.20 National Trust. From my own bank, I then have a £29.99 for my gym membership, £5 Great Ormond St Hospital and £50 debt repayment for a credit card I racked up when younger and hid from.
Subscriptions: £7.99 Disney+; £4.99 Hayu.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it? I studied law for a year, partied too much and failed the first year before dropping out much to my regret. I had the max loan/grant, and worked in a bar to top up my spending money… Which inevitably got spent at the bar.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
My dad was terrible with money and constantly spent more than he earned, resulting in a lot of debt, bankruptcy, bailiffs at the door, et cetera. My mum would keep bailing him out as she was the complete opposite, however, eventually the lies got too much for her and they split. I definitely take after my dad with money unfortunately, and really have to make a conscious effort to not follow down his path. I never really received any financial advice from either of them and will make sure that I openly discuss money with my children.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents’/guardians’ house?
I moved out at 18 to go to university (only about 30 minutes away), and never moved back in. 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
Once I moved out — but I know if I am ever really stuck I could ask my mum for help. My partner picks up more family days out, treats, et cetera than me as he earns about £20,000 more than me annually, but we both contribute the same to the joint account. I was a SAHM for four years until my youngest started nursery last year, so he covered everything for that time period. It feels amazing to be back at work and contributing to the household financially again.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
As a Saturday girl in a hair salon. I worked 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday for £25 which is crazy to think now! I always spent it that evening on a night out in town.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes all the time… The past year has been great to have my own steady income but I have quickly grown my lifestyle to match it and rarely have any money left at the end of the month. We always seem to manage to make it work, but I would feel much better with a healthy savings pot behind us.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
Yes, I received £1,000 to buy my first car from my grandparents upon passing my driving test, and a further £10,000 towards our house deposit from them. We had finally saved enough for a deposit (no mean feat while renting with small children) then COVID-19 came along, and a 5% deposit was impossible to get. My grandparents very kindly stepped in with this gift, which I never expected, and am eternally grateful for.