Money Diary: Merchandising Project Manager On £76,000

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 26-year-old living in Bristol working in merchandising project management looking after EMEA. I studied interior architecture and design with a specification in events, performances and immersive experience, but ended up in more project management and field roles within tech due to COVID-19. My contract is set to expire in the summer, so I’m trying to get as much PM and budget experience as possible, while saving for travel at the end of the year. I’m also trying to balance this with the desire to buy my own home by the beginning of 2025. I’m realising more and more that as a single person, the ability to buy by myself in Bristol is very unlikely. So I’m focusing more on experience, adventure and meeting new people after getting out of a relationship that really damaged my confidence and self worth.”
Occupation: Merchandising project manager
Industry: Tech
Age: 26
Location: Bristol
Salary: £76,000
Paycheque Amount: £4,895
Number of housemates: One, A
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £525 rent
Loan payments: £164.70 (paying off my car)
Savings?: £7,832 in a Help to Buy ISA and £23,216 in a savings account
Pension? Yes, I pay 3% and my employer matches. I think I have around £9,000 in it.
Utilities: £150 for everything
All other monthly payments: £12 SIM-only; £126 pilates. Subscriptions: £10 Apple Music and Storage; £8.99 Amazon Prime; £6.99 Paramount+.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I went to university and got the lowest loan amount. I worked every weekend and break I could to save up, so all my parents contributed was a food shop when they came down to visit me. I took a lot of pride in not having my parents pay for any aspect of my university experience, but it did mean that I missed out on some of the group holidays and would only get a side dish on meals out as I was watching my spend. I would record everything I spent in a diary, save all my receipts and, at the end of the month, review and make cutbacks.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
We didn’t talk too much about money growing up. We had multiple holidays a year, trips to the cinema and out for food, et cetera. We’d only be aware occasionally when Mum and Dad would have a tense conversation when Dad couldn’t withdraw any money as they’d maxed out. It was a weird dynamic though. My dad’s side of the family is affluent and he’s cautious with money and has always made sure the money is invested well and things are of high quality and looked after. My mum’s family always struggles, so her attitude was one of “I have money now, so I’m going to spend it”, which was the root of many a tense conversation growing up, as my dad tried to manage everything. Overall though, we were taught to save. We all had our own savings accounts and were encouraged to put any extra Christmas or birthday money away, and if we wanted something then we would have to earn it. I spent many a weekend cleaning elderly relatives homes so I could buy more records and books. I was an indie kid.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents’/guardians’ house?
I moved out at 23 with my ex-boyfriend. I moved back in temporarily after the split for six months as I also changed job at the same time but I paid rent and bills. I have been living with a friend since last summer.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
When I went to uni at 19. I got all the loans I could and worked throughout summer and any breaks so that I could pay for everything by myself. Whenever I’ve gone back to live with my parents (COVID-19 and post breakup), I’ve paid rent and bills and done my own food shop as I’m a vegan and some items are expensive. The only thing my parents contribute towards is a family holiday every year where they contribute a percentage to me and my siblings so we can all go.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as a swimming teacher at a local swimming club at 17. I used to compete there but an injury meant that I had to stop swimming competitively. I then got my qualifications and ended up running the swim school after sixth form in the week and I also worked at a tech shop on the weekends.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. I’ve got a high-paying job and I’ve managed to save well but there is just so much that I want to experience and explore that it’s overwhelming and gives me money anxiety. My contract expires this summer so I’m trying to manage my expectations on my next role and if I want to stay in the same sector, or mix it up. I also want to travel for two or three months in the autumn and then buy a house in Bristol (which is very wishful thinking as a single person with Bristol house prices). It’s all about prioritisation and working out what I actually want, while not limiting my experiences.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?