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Money Diary: A Managing Director On £70,000

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.
This week: “I’m a 30-year-old managing director for an advertising agency specialising in brokering celebrity and influencer ambassadorships for big brands (I previously wrote a diary in 2022, which you can read here). I live in rural Hampshire with my husband, J and our toddler and baby. We fled London during the pandemic when I was first pregnant and we were both working remotely, and didn’t want to continue paying London prices. We have been really lonely and bored out here and miss city life a lot. My relationship with money has always been turbulent. I grew up in council housing and on benefits in a very poor town, and I learned a lot of unhealthy money habits like squirrelling away pennies and feeling anxious about any spending. I was one of the only people from my school to go to university and the first in my family, and now earn more than I ever thought real people earned. I feel a lot of guilt around my salary and spending because of the way my family spoke about middle class people when I was growing up, and because my job is not in any way important to society. I also find that I now spend really erratically, flipping between hoarding money for fear of not having any but then spending impulsively when I need a dopamine boost or feel like I should be enjoying the novelty of having disposable income. I have found being a working parent in the UK an increasingly stressful experience. I sacrificed everything to build the career I have from nothing but now it’s no longer an emotional priority for me because my family is instead. But the times I’ve spent out of work and not earning (and didn’t qualify for maternity pay other than government statutory for either of my mat leaves) have set us back hugely financially and put incredible stress and pressure on J to maintain job security and a steady income. Not to mention how this strips me of financial independence, and future security like a solid pension pot. We have no family to help us with childcare and the local childcare services are incredibly oversubscribed. J grew up in the social care system and has built an incredible career for himself from even less than I started with. We’ve been together since we were students and have been through the same journey trying to improve our relationship with money.”
Occupation: Managing director
Industry: Influencer marketing
Age: 30
Location: Living in Hampshire; working in London.
Salary: £70,000 for four days per week.
Paycheque Amount: £4,043.36
Number of housemates: Husband, J. Plus our two-and-a-half-year-old, B, and one-year-old, M, and dogs and cats.
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £1,100 total mortgage (shared cost with husband) for a £350,000 house we bought on a five-year fixed rate mortgage a few years ago.
Loan payments: £215.75 fixed monthly repayment for a personal loan I took out in 2019 to cover three months of earnings just in case; £359 in student loan repayments. We also took out a loan together last year to buy our used family car outright as the loan repayments were cheaper than getting the car on finance, and this is a monthly expense of £100 each. 
Savings?: We have £2,000 split across two different investment accounts. We used to have £30,000 in savings but have really struggled over the past couple of years to keep afloat and progress our careers with two babies, and have been rinsing our savings in response to this. 
Pension? I have consolidated all of my previous pension funds into Pension Bee which currently sits at around £20,000. I currently pay £183 into it monthly through my employer (5% my contribution and 3% theirs). 
Utilities: Our council tax is £2,319.26, which we pay annually, and we have an additional local maintenance fee for the green spaces in our neighbourhood of £330 annually (rip off!). We pay around £130 quarterly for water and our energy bill averages at £250 per month.
All other monthly payments: Our babies both attend nursery four days per week and neither yet qualify for the “funded” hours, so this amounts to nearly £2,500! Subscriptions: £18.60 Google Drive; £2.99 Apple; £8.99 iPhone storage; £7.99 monthly for Audible; £20 Skin+Me. All shared subscriptions such as Spotify, Netflix et cetera (and things like the kids’ swimming lessons) come out of our shared account, £100.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it? Yes — I worked 55 hours per week during college, split across multiple hospitality and retail jobs, to contribute to our rent and bills and save for uni. I had my loans and many jobs and side hustles whilst I was studying. But I was still dirt broke throughout my time there and was very often surviving on housemates’ leftovers and scrounging drinks on nights out. 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
Growing up we were always struggling with money and I knew not to ask for things because the answer was always “We can’t afford it”. Branded food was considered a luxury and I didn’t have my first takeaway until I was 18. No one in my family had ever owned their own home or been to university and I felt embarrassed to express my ambitions to achieve those things because I didn’t want to seem like I wasn’t happy with the life we had. There wasn’t any financial education other than to use any opportunity to make money and avoid any opportunity to spend it.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents’/guardians’ house?
At 18 when I moved out for university.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life? I’ve been working to earn my own way since I was 13, but I became entirely financially independent at 18 when I moved out. There was no safety net and I actually sometimes feel that I am now the safety net for my family as my parents don’t own their home or have well-paid jobs. J and I have taken it in turns to support each other over the years but this was a lot easier to do before we became parents. 
What was your first job and why did you get it? I started a business at 13 years old, taking grocery orders from the houseboats and yachts in my local harbour. I’d pay my grandad petrol money on the commission I took so he could ferry me about to fulfil the orders. I wanted to have my own financial freedom from a young age. 
Do you worry about money now? I worry about money a lot. I had this idea in my mind growing up poor that people who earned what I’m earning now must live a life of luxury and extravagance. I feel extremely fortunate to have built the life that we have, and to have the luxuries that we do have, but we also don’t go on any holidays. We still wear the same high-street clothes we’ve had for years, we aren’t any closer to moving into a “dream” home, and don’t have the financial buffers to protect us if one of us lost our jobs suddenly, for example.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
At 19 I won £10,000 from a TV game show. I spent all of the money over three years on really amazing holidays and backpacking stints, and actually ended up in more than £10,000 debt by my mid twenties. I’d never had money before and wasn’t managing my finances well! A significant chunk of our house deposit was a result of the huge increase in the value of Bitcoin in 2021 which J had kept £900 in for around seven years so we got very lucky there.