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Money Diary: A Market Researcher On £43,000

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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 27-year-old researcher working in London. I’ve lived here for four years, having moved here to do a master’s degree. I then stayed on, which was always the plan. I got about six months of “normal life” before the subsequent lockdowns, and I’ve lived with my two friends for the entire time, though our first flat was a bit of a dive!
My current sector is related to my master’s degree, and I’m finally starting to see the benefits of my hard work and have progressed quite quickly in my jobs so far. 
With regards to money, I am definitely a spender but have tried to curb it over the years. I’ve always viewed money as something to spend when I have it. I was in a good position with savings when I first moved to London, but my inclination to spend, plus some unfortunate financial COVID-19 stuff and the expense of “London life” means that I’m currently on a bit of a debt journey. However, with the salary increase I finally feel like I have the means to tackle my debt and improve my financial future.”
Occupation: Researcher
Industry: Market research
Age: 27
Location: London
Salary: £43,000
Paycheque Amount: Approx. £2,400 post tax. I’m still waiting for my first pay cheque for a full month from my new job to figure out what the number will be each month. More recently, it was £2,000 post tax. 
Number of housemates: Two flatmates (D and S, and one cat)
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £733 rent for our flat
Loan payments: I made the grave mistake of getting a loan out to help towards living costs during my master’s degree four years ago and I pay £150 each month towards that, which doesn’t seem to be making the slightest dent. The last I checked the balance was £5,200 in June 2023 having borrowed £5,000 and making payments for two and a half years… I also have £1,500 on my Very account, a £,1500 overdraft, a £1,300 credit card, a £500 credit card, a £450 credit card, a £250 credit card and a £200 credit card. It actually makes me feel sick to write this! I moved to London four years ago without any debt, but a combination of income loss during COVID-19, having to pay rent on a high-interest credit card, trying to keep up with people and absolutely silly interest rates on credit cards has led me here. My credit is too bad to get any kind of consolidation loan. I’ve now got my new job which is an extra £400 a month. I’m hoping once I’ve got my first payday I can start attacking it with the new surplus, but to be honest I don’t even know which debt I should tackle first.
Savings?: Absolutely none, once I’ve paid some of my credit cards off I’m hoping to start building up a rainy day fund. 
Pension? For the job I’ve just moved into, I pay 4% and my employer pays 3%, which is actually quite basic and there’s no employee matching scheme, so I’m planning to open a personal pension at some point.
Utilities: I split utilities between my two flatmates. My share is £45 council tax, £10 water, £30 gas, £30 electric, £11 Wi-Fi.
All other monthly payments: £40 phone; £4.60 pet insurance; £20 Loqbox; £32 gym membership. I also make minimum payments towards Very and my credit cards (£115, £60, £30, £25, £25, £10).  Subscriptions: £6 Netflix; £8.99 Amazon Prime; £11 Spotify; £2.50 iCloud storage; £2.33 Labour Party membership; £5 donation to charity; £10 for my share of a Pret subscription.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I did a four-year humanities degree at £9k a year with full maintenance loan/grant, and a social sciences post-grad that cost £11k-ish for tuition. This was all funded through Student Finance England.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I grew up in quite a volatile environment with my mum raising me and my sister alone without any involvement from our respective dads. We had a lot of things from catalogues (including a TV where you had to put pound coins in to make it work!) and I found out as a late teen that my grandma bailed my mum out of debt quite a few times. We didn’t go on holidays and I remember my mum always projecting her stress about money onto me and my sister.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents’/guardians’ house?
I moved out of my mum’s house when I was 18 to move to uni. I would then live at home during the summers while working and she would charge me lodge (£50 a week, while also paying summer rent for my uni house, so I basically just never had any money). I haven’t lived at home now since I was 22.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I would consider myself financially responsible from the age of 16. As soon as I got my first part-time job I was buying my own food, toiletries, travel, lodging, treats, et cetera, as I think my mum decided that from that point her job was done. Nobody else covers anything financially for me.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was a waitressing job for £3.68 an hour in a restaurant! My first full-time job was in a secondary school for a year post uni to pay off my overdraft and save to move to London.
Do you worry about money now?
I worry about money every single day. On a short-term basis, I worry about my debt and having absolutely no safety net or anybody to lean on financially if something were to happen. In the longer term I worry about when I have paid off debt, how far that will have set me back with building savings for my age, home ownership at some point, building up a pension. It honestly feels quite overwhelming living payday to payday, while trying to not be a total recluse, and also trying not to live beyond my means (though clearly I have been). 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? Nope! 
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