Money Diary: A Food Stylist & Photographer On 28k

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 27-year-old food content creator from London. I work for an online food retailer, where I keep the website and products updated, which includes producing all the photography, copy and recipe content. I also work as a freelance food stylist and photographer and as a chef at a restaurant on an ad hoc basis. I absolutely love working in the food industry and the low salary is made up for by the perks of the job (eating a lot of delicious food most days).
My boyfriend, B, and I have made the decision to go travelling at the end of this year to make up for lost time during the pandemic. I have always wanted to travel for an extended period and never really made it happen so now feels like the right time as our flat tenancy finishes. I am definitely far from a natural saver and have always lived paycheque to paycheque. I am very grateful to have inherited some money a few years ago when my grandad sadly passed away and know that I am fortunate that both of my parents would help me if I was in a sticky financial situation. Most of my money goes on enjoying delicious food and drinks in London (what’s the point in living in London, if not for the food?) and booking weekends away to festivals and city breaks."
Occupation: Food stylist and photographer 
Industry: Food 
Age: 27
Location: London  
Salary: £28k 
Paycheque amount: £1,800 after tax. I sometimes get extra money from freelance projects and ad hoc chef work, this varies from £100-£400 per month after tax. 
Number of housemates: One: my boyfriend, B.
Pronouns: She/her
 
Monthly Expenses
 
Housing costs: £825 for my half of the rent. 
Loan payments: My student loan is at around £55k plus ever-increasing interest.
Savings? £12k in ISAs and savings accounts that I don’t touch. £1,900 in my own personal savings, which I dip in and out of when I overspend my salary. I also use this as my weekends-away fund. 
Pension? Yes, I think I pay about 2% and my employer pays 4%? I need to check this!
Utilities: £72 council tax, £63 energy and gas, £36 water, £31 broadband (all split with my boyfriend).
All other monthly payments: £21.95 phone bill. £50 car insurance, £64 gym, £16 for my website provider for freelance work. Subscriptions: £9 Smol, £25 Pret (essential for early-morning chef hours), £5 Refugee Action, £5 Tree Aid.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I moved to Manchester to study events management. I had a really fun time at university but not sure I learned too many practical skills from my degree and also didn’t end up going into that industry so I sort of resent the massive loan that I took out for it (but also don’t know if I will even pay it all off before I’m 50 so try not to worry too much about the skyrocketing interest rates). 
 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I don’t remember talking about money much as a child. I feel very lucky that I grew up in a happy, financially stable house. I started to receive pocket money when I was a teenager, which I learned to save for things that I wanted like CDs (retro), clothes and makeup. My parents both encouraged me to do work experience, which hugely impacted my work ethic and desire to earn money from a young age.
 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out to go to university when I was 19 but returned in the university holidays. I had to leave my placement year abroad six months early for family reasons so I moved back to the UK and lived between my mum’s house and my dad’s house during that time (they both live separately outside of London now). When I finished university I moved in with friends, as I wanted to stay in London where I grew up. 
 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I became financially responsible for myself when I finished university and moved into a flat in London. During university I paid for everything with loans and a grant but I wasn’t asked to pay any rent when I was home for the holidays. My grandparents paid some initial costs for me to move abroad for my placement year and then I paid for everything while I was there. I worked through university, doing waitressing for catering companies and brand promotion jobs, and made sure I had a job lined up when I graduated from university so I could move out straightaway. 
 
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I childminded for a few families on my street from the age of about 14. My first proper job was at Wimbledon – a lot of my local friends worked there for the championships every year so I applied and was given a Saturday job in the museum shop when I was 17, as well as working at the championships every summer until the end of university. 
 
Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. Day to day I don’t hold back from saying yes to going out with friends and experiences as I like to enjoy myself and live in the moment. I worry a little about long-term financial savings as I don’t tend to save any money on a monthly basis on my current salary. I also find myself comparing my salary to my friends who are in corporate, higher paid jobs – I wish I didn’t and I have to remind myself I am in an industry I absolutely love and hopefully there will be some career progression in the next few years. 
 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My grandad left my sister and I some money when he passed away, which has since been put into savings accounts and I hope will gain interest for the next few years and start encouraging me to save for a deposit for a house in the future. I am very grateful for this and know that he worked so hard for my family to be able to have financial stability. My dad also very kindly bought me a car during the pandemic, which I am very grateful for as it is super useful for when I am driving long trips to see either of my parents and for carting around photography kit and props for shoots.  

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