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A Freelance Biology Researcher In Scotland On An Average Of £32,700

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 a 30-year-old interdisciplinary researcher and communicator. I fought through higher education and received my PhD three years ago. I have a complicated, portfolio career crossing multiple research intersections but I'm proud of myself for forging such a unique niche. I have an equally complicated health situation with a veritable alphabet soup of diagnoses, which impacts my ability to work. I have a genetic disease that causes chronic joint instability/dislocations and pain, alongside a heart and nervous system disorder. I am neurodiverse and currently undergoing specialist NHS treatment for a complex mental health condition. My variable health means I really benefit from a freelance and atypical portfolio career as I can make my time work for me (and frequently work from bed).
I am currently in a less than ideal housing situation due to chronic neglect of our historic flat, meaning I am trying to save to move. My partner, O, and I take a relatively lax approach to splitting expenses but this needs to change as we’re quite bad with money between us. My Personal Independence Payment (PIP) covers my private physiotherapy and osteopathy, hEDS specialist occupational therapist, pre-prepared food, adaptive equipment, paying my friends for their time if they help me with tasks around the home, keeping my car on the road and ADHD tax (late fees, missed payment fees etc.). I wouldn’t be able to work without it and it helps me maintain a relatively independent lifestyle."
Occupation: Researcher and science communicator 
Industry: Academia and third sector 
Age: 30 
Location: Scotland
Salary: £28,200-£37,200. This is very dependent on my contracts, including PIP.
Paycheque amount: £1,850-£2,600 plus £501 PIP. PIP is not subject to tax and my monthly income has only ever topped out at the highest end once. 
Number of housemates: One: R. 
Pronouns: They/she 
Monthly Expenses 
Housing costs: £475 but this is likely to change as I am trying to find a one-bed. 
Loan payments: I have £63.40 left to pay on an interest-free credit agreement I took out to purchase a musical instrument, and £1,500 on an interest-free credit card, used for travel expense reimbursement. Academia loves to make people pay upfront and reimburse later, which can be very costly during conference season. I have never had any student loan repayments taken, even though they said they’d start. I put this down to my salary being unpredictable? I am scared to find out.
Pension? According to USS (Universities Superannuation Scheme, the main academic pension provider), I have around £5,000.
Savings? £1,500 stocks, £2,000 for freelance project tax (it is never this much, but just in case), £2,000 emergency fund, £4,500 easy access savings, £1,500 travel fund, £150 car repair fund, £400-odd in a LISA, £8,000 locked away for a deposit on a flat, which I am hoping to buy when I have a permanent job, and £10,000 in additional savings, which my parents are holding onto.
Utilities: I pay £153.20 gas/electric and internet. My flatmate pays council tax (water included, thanks Scotland). 
All other monthly payments: £16.50 phone, £104 private physiotherapist/osteotherapist, £75 private occupational therapist, £25 car tax, £2.50 tenants union dues, £5 Landworkers' Alliance supporter dues, £15.04 renters and contents insurance. Subscriptions: £1.49 Google storage, £1.49 iCloud storage, £25.99 Squarespace, £9.99 Spotify, £9.60 Patreon, £8.99 Audible, £5 Monzo Plus, £2.99 Plum Premium, £2.51 Couchsurfing membership, £16.49 Adobe Creative Cloud.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I participated in higher education so voraciously that it is now my job (nerd). I covered my BSc with maxed out maintenance and tuition loans, and after a year off due to ill health, ended up smacked with £9,000 annual fees. I worked three jobs during my BSc to save money for my MSc tuition and living expenses but I was very privileged to have my rent supplemented by my parents for my MSc year. MSc loans weren’t available for a research master's but luckily the fees for research were much lower. I received a full stipend (approx. £1,250 p/m) for four years of my PhD, and added to my savings with teaching and freelance opportunities.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
Money in my family was often a point of contention, even though we were mostly financially stable. My dad is very financially savvy but frugal to the point of hindrance, constantly using points, loyalty schemes, balance transfers to maximise savings. I was never specifically educated beyond "don’t get in debt, avoid credit cards, buy secondhand".
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
Aged 19 to go to university. I spent summer holidays there working before moving to Scotland fully when I was 22. 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
When I got my PhD stipend, aged 23. My dad still insists (to this very day) on sending me £50 a month for a treat. It is always very welcome and often spent on date night with my partner, O. My mum pays £12.50 of my phone contract and does the same for my sister. She won’t stop. We tried. 
What was your first job and why did you get it?
The local shop, aged 16. Everyone in my village worked their first job there as a rite of passage. It was also a rite of passage to get fired by the unhinged manager (I lasted four whole months). 
Do you worry about money now? 
Not day to day but certainly about the future. I am already working close to the maximum income limit of my freelance skillset and the only way to get paid more is to set up a business or consultancy. I worry about this due to the unpredictable nature of my health and my scatterbrained financial management. I am also very concerned about having enough of a cushion to support me if my health gets worse again, though I would be comfortable claiming the Universal Credit health element if I were eligible. 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
Yes. I am incredibly privileged to have £10,000 from my parents (which is for a deposit on a house) and an undisclosed sum from my grandparents after a house sale (split between four). This sum went to my parents and was used to contribute to my savings above and pay my MSc year rent.