Money Diary: A 24-Year-Old Graduate Journalist On Universal Credit

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: "After finishing my undergraduate degree in 2018, I used the remains of my student loan to go travelling with my best friend until Christmas. Come February and I was working three jobs while living at my dad’s house rent-free in order to save money to move to London. I started a journalism master’s course in the capital in September last year and, luckily, the money I saved while working was enough to cover the fees. I received quite a big loan and grant from the Welsh government to live on. After graduating in July, I had a little of this money left and immediately tried to find a job. At first, I was applying for any job in the journalism industry but then I started looking for roles in publishing and marketing too. No luck. I eventually decided to take my CV around pubs, cafés and shops in my local area but I still haven’t heard back from any of them. I was quickly running out of money so, in late August, I registered for Universal Credit.
When I told my friends that I was going to be on the dole, some of them didn’t even know what that meant. There's no shame in receiving UC. It’s not much money but I’m grateful that it’s just about enough to give me some peace of mind while I concentrate on filling in job applications. I’ve never been one to live lavishly: I do my food shop at Lidl, I like to buy clothes from secondhand shops, I have barely any online subscriptions and I choose the cheapest meal on the menu whenever I’m out.
However, my mental health has taken quite a bit of a toll during the pandemic and so I’ve been treating myself more than usual recently. I like to buy books and go to quirky little coffee shops in east London. I always sit outside and pretend I’m on a plaza in Madrid. It makes me happy. And so does wine – which I drink too much of." 
 
Industry: Journalism
Age: 24
Location: London
Salary: Unemployed
Paycheque amount: £840 (Universal Credit) 
Number of housemates: Two. One of them is also unemployed so it’s quite nice being able to complain to each other about how frustrating the situation is.
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £480
Loan payments: I don’t have to pay my university loan back yet.
Utilities: Around £40 for water, Wi-Fi, gas and electricity. 
Transportation: Probably around £120 a month. 
Phone bill: £36  
Savings? I have £424 in a Monzo pot and £421 in a Lloyds savings account. I’m using the money in my Monzo pot at the moment – annoyingly – as my current HSBC account is in overdraft. I’m waiting for my UC payment to get out of it before using it again. 
Other: Now TV £9.99, contact lenses £30. My new phone contract includes Spotify, thank God – I thought I’d have to cancel it. I did have to recently cancel my Amazon Prime and my subscription to The New York Times though. 

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