Money Diary: A Human Rights Lawyer On 18.2k After An 80k Pay Drop

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 29-year-old lawyer living in a leafy suburb of west London. My sister, A, and I co-own our flat in which we live together with my boyfriend, B.
I recently took a huge pay cut. I was working for a large city law firm, where I was earning just over £100,000. I quit for a smaller firm specialising in a niche area of law which I’m passionate about. It’s both interesting and makes me feel like I’m doing something good for the world. The job is only for a few months and then (if the stars align) I’ll be moving to a job that does something similar for a £100,000+ salary. There’s always the possibility that this may not materialise so I’m currently interviewing for other positions, too. 
Many of those close to me were surprised and worried about this move. My parents especially. They immigrated to the UK from Poland and have been working tirelessly to make their business a success. To them, the move seems like a ‘step back’ but I explained that they also took a ‘step back’ by starting their business from scratch here 30 years ago. I think they also find comfort in that I’ve prepared myself for this uncertain period of time and have always lived as though I were on a lower salary. 
I ring-fenced £5,000 of my savings to use during the next few months for fun things, as my salary can’t cover it. So that’s roughly about £200 extra every week, though I’m not aiming to use up all of this money. I also have quite a few pre-paid things to look forward to – events/holidays that were cancelled last year and moved to this year and unused free cinema tickets. A, B and I got very into cooking during the pandemic and we can’t wait to host dinner parties in the garden. And instead of holidays, we’re exploring new-to-us areas of London and London parks, just like we did this bank holiday weekend." 
Industry: Law
Age: 29
Location: London
Salary: £18,200
Paycheque amount: £1,294.85 after tax.
Number of housemates: Two: sister (A) and boyfriend (B).
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: These are shared between A and me. B moved in last year and we agreed he’ll save for the deposit on our future house, instead of paying rent. For my share: £956 for the mortgage, £87.50 for the council tax. We also pay a service charge every six months and ground rent once a year, which we’ve just paid – for the full year, my share is £925 and £75 respectively. 
Loan payments: Student loans from my untaxed salary (currently halted as my salary is too low). I’ve only got £4,000 left to pay off. 
Utilities: These are shared between A, B and me. £12 for my share of the internet; £20 for my share of the gas and electricity; and £50 for my share of the water bill (which is paid once every six months).
Transportation: Normally nothing, as I’m now working from home and walk everywhere. This week I did use the Tube quite a bit, which came to £5.60/£6.20 a day.
Phone bill: £11
Savings? Thanks to my previous job, I have money stashed away. I have just over £50,000 savings in various different accounts and funds. My emergency fund (£30,000 – which I calculated as what I needed to have if I were to be unemployed for a year and still wanted to be able to pay for all my costs and bills and live normally, including going on holiday) is in a high interest (highest it can be right now!) savings account. I also have £3,400 in a cash ISA that I top up with £200 each month and £5,000 in my Lloyds Club current account. I then have £10,000 in an NS&I premium bond and the rest is in my Vanguard investment account that I top up with £100 each month. As I am earning less right now, I top up the high-interest accounts from my emergency fund. I also contributed the full amount (with some extras) to my previous law firm's pension fund scheme, in which I have about £30,000.  
Other: £15.50 contact lenses and £0.79 Apple storage. I paid for my Economist annual subscription and my share of the Disney+ subscription a few months ago so I don’t count it towards my ‘monthly’ spending. It was £89.50 and £26.50, respectively. 

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