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Money Diary: A Lawyer In London On £132,000

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.
Content warning: This diary contains references to body image issues.
This week: “I’m a 30-year-old lawyer living in London. I’ve been following Money Diaries for six years, since I was a student, and have been waiting ages to write my first one. I live with my husband, a software engineer, in a flat in South London that we bought in 2021. We married last year and are building up our savings again after our
wedding. We are looking to buy a bigger house and start the next stage of our lives together.”
Occupation: Lawyer
Industry: Legal
Age: 30
Location: London
Salary: £132,000
Paycheque Amount: £6,069
Number of housemates: One, my husband
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £1,009 for my half of the mortgage plus £50 to the house maintenance fund (we live in a house converted to flats so the maintenance is for upkeep of the communal areas).
Loan payments: £937 monthly to my dad, who lent me £27,000 in October to
pay off my student loan.
Savings?: £8,000 in an ISA; £6,000 in a HYS account. I save £250 into the ISA
monthly and £500 to the HYS. My husband and I collectively pool the remainder
of our savings to either holidays or renovations for the house. Our savings are a
little depleted as we married last year and we paid for 90% of our wedding
(around £50,000 in total).
Pension? I have a pension from my previous job that is around £60,000. I currently pay in 7% — so £770 a month — and my employer matches, so total £1,540.
Utilities: £125.96 for all utilities, including TV licence.
All other monthly payments: £70 monthly for cleaner; £50 to house management company; £445 for a gym membership and my personal trainer; £80 phone; £40 a week contribution to our joint “kitty”; £230 to various charities including Shelter, Trussell Trust and to my sister for financial assistance. Subscriptions: £126 for all subscriptions, including streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, NowTV, Disney+, Spotify), Freddie’s Flowers and contact lenses. £140 for a meal subscription kit.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Yes, I had always wanted to study law! I went to university in 2012, the first year
of the £9,000 student loans. I had the minimum living loan of £3,535, which didn’t
even manage to cover my rent in first year and I left university with £50-60k of debt. My parents also helped me out with living costs at university (£400 a month) and I didn’t work while there, which put me in an incredibly privileged position because I could focus on my studies (and a bit on partying).
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I opened my first bank account as a child with the Co-op Bank and remember
depositing the contents of my piggy bank. I was always aware of money and the
cost of items as we weren’t always well off. As I got older I had conversations with my dad about financial products and we still send each other good high yield savings accounts! When I was very young only my dad worked. My mum had her own business for a while which was fun but didn’t make much money and we felt the pinch. I remember reading The Bed and Breakfast Star by Jacqueline Wilson and being terrified our house was going to be repossessed. Later we became more comfortable, but I was always aware of how strictly my dad budgeted and how he tracked our spending every week by getting the receipts out at the kitchen table and putting them all in his spreadsheet. I was highly motivated to get a good job because I never wanted to feel that insecurity.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents’/guardians’ house?
I moved out at age 18 to go to university, and went back for a period of six months
when I graduated, before I went travelling.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
Not until 23 or 24. I did the legal practice course in London after my gap year, and while the firm paid a stipend of £10,000, it again didn’t leave me much to live on.
My parents paid me £600 a month for that year until I started working in 2018. Now I benefit from living with my husband and splitting expenses. He earns less than I do, £100,000, but it means that the cost of everything is halved. I have had an incredibly privileged route to this job, and I am aware of how inaccessible the legal industry can be for those people who don’t come from an affluent background. I try to pay it forward by helping my sister with her living costs as she works in a creative industry which is much less well paid.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked as a teaching assistant for six months when I left university at 22 to
save for a gap year. It paid £60 a day but I was living at home so managed to
save almost all of it.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes — I live in London and I have an expensive lifestyle. We live in a one-bedroom flat and one day I’d like to have kids, so we’ll have to save for a larger house, too.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
As mentioned above, I received a £27,000 loan from my parents to pay off the
remains of my student loan this year. My parents and my husband’s parents also
gifted us £15,000 and £10,000 respectively to assist us in buying our first flat in 2021 and putting a deposit down for our wedding venue when we married last year.