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Money Diary: A Higher Education Researcher On 25k

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 34 and live with my husband, C, in County Durham. We were lockdown lovers and I moved into his place and never moved out. We both work in the charity sector and I also work in higher education (I graduated with my PhD in 2020). Research is often short-term project work so balancing financial security means I do this part-time on short(ish)-term contracts (six months to a year) and also work part-time in the charity sector. It’s never going to get me to the big bucks! Having burnt out in my early 20s, I like the limited responsibility and healthy work-life balance it brings.
I’m very fortunate that C already owned the house I moved into and has a fairly small mortgage, having worked and saved since leaving school. I’m a saver by nature and have various pots for various things. Christmas: check. Date night: check. Birthdays and special occasions: check! I have one credit card that I use for larger purchases (holidays and furniture etc.) and I always make sure to pay it off in full."
Occupation: Researcher
Industry: Higher education
Age: 34
Location: Northeast England
Salary: Approx. £25,000 across the two jobs, variable with research contract changes.
Paycheque amount: Last month it was £1,940 take-home (£927 + £1,024).
Number of housemates: One: my husband, C.
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £158 for my half of the mortgage.
Loan payments: I don’t earn enough to pay off my student loan. 
Savings? I put £50 a month into a Lifetime ISA (approx. £3,000 total) and £200 a month into a savings account (approx. £8,000 total).
Utilities: We each put £450 into a bills account, which covers everything including mortgage, internet, water, gas/electricity, Netflix, council tax, life insurance etc.
Pension? I honestly have no clue how much I pay into my pensions. It’s hard to decide whether it is best to lock money away for the future when I may need it now for emergencies. 
All other monthly payments: £8 SIM only. Subscriptions: £40 The Devout clothing rental. £117 annually for Lottie Murphy Pilates, £20 NAFAS flower club.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I went to university to do an undergrad degree, which I paid for with a student loan and a maintenance loan. My parents also supported me by covering my rent. I did a master's a few years after, which I funded by savings, inheritance and working alongside my studies. I then did a PhD, during which time I worked and lived at home, where I contributed around £200 a month. My parents saved this money and I was able to use it towards research expenses. 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I was always encouraged to save. I remember trips to the local building society to deposit birthday and Christmas money — those were the days when everything was printed in a little book! The attitude to money that I grew up around was certainly one of caution and not to overstretch. Debt was always to be avoided and you should not buy something if you could not afford it. 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out first when I was 18, moved back when I was 25 and then moved out finally when I was 31. I’m very grateful to them as I would never have been able to complete my PhD otherwise, which was quite a traumatic period.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
While I've been supported by sometimes living at home, including food and utilities, I have covered all of my other expenses since I left for university.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at the local newsagent on weekends when I was 13. I used to stack shelves and count coupons. As the years went on, I used to serve customers and write up the newspaper delivery rounds at 5am. I think I got about £2.50 an hour. I loved it! I used the money to save for trips to the town where I now live. 
Do you worry about money now?
I go through weekly waves of feeling okay about money and then worrying. I’m thankful that I have some steady employment although I'm aware that my main income is not permanent. I try and save as much as possible just in case. I'm trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle, which curbs my desire for new things and makes saving easier. 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
I inherited £1,000 when my grandma died and £3,000 when a close family member died. I used all of this on further education. I wanted to use it for something that was lasting. I was always the family geek!