Money Diary: A Museum Supervisor In Lancashire On 23k

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 25-year-old museum worker living in Lancashire. I graduated from my master's last year and have a part-time contract at a local museum as the supervisor. This is honestly my dream job because in the museum world it is very hard to get up the ladder and secure a permanent contract. The rest of the time I'm a community heritage freelancer. This was initially to make up for the part-time hours but it’s slowly developing into a consistent revenue stream. I've done so much already, from helping parishes with archaeology planning to taking on set projects and giving talks to local groups. I've always worried about finances and the fact I can do all of this and actually make money, instead of volunteering, is crazy to me.
I create budgets but they vary each month because of my freelance work and picking up extra shifts, which is a little confusing and means my income is always fluctuating. My current system means my set expenses are covered by my permanent contract and any savings come from the freelance work. At the moment I am living with my fiancé's family while we save for our first house, which has been a godsend as neither of us had jobs during the pandemic. I feel privileged to be able to put all my efforts into saving thanks to amazing family renting rates."
Occupation: Museum supervisor and freelancer
Industry: Museums
Age: 25
Location: Lancashire 
Salary: £23k (varies depending on freelance work).
Paycheque amount: £1,600 after tax and pension for both my part-time job and freelance. This varies each month depending on freelance work. 
Number of housemates: Four (my fiancé, his parents and his sister) plus two doggos.
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses 
Housing costs: £300 rent.
Loan payments: None.
Savings? £20k in various funds and ISAs. 
Utilities: Covered in housing costs.
Pension? For my museum job I have a pension that I pay 5% into each month. I also have a lifetime ISA, which can only be spent on your first house or retirement, meaning any money I put into that will in theory go towards my retirement. 
All other monthly payments: £64 car insurance, £8 phone bill, £30 per month saved for car maintenance and servicing because I drive a lot of miles. Subscriptions: Disney+ £7. 
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I went to university and completed my bachelor's degree and then did a part-time master's degree while I worked. I paid for these via student loans and maintenance loans. I did manage to get a discount by staying at the same university for my master's. My mum helped for the first two years but she slowly stopped volunteering money for rent since I had a part-time job, and my master's I did off my own bat. 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
My family loves bargains! Accounting for every penny was instilled in me. We never formally talked about money, we always had enough even after my parents divorced so I didn’t think too much about it. The family motto of 'spend some, save some' has really stuck with me and is one of the reasons I have been able to save so much even through uni and my first proper job. We are now very open about money and I would say my education is ongoing after entering the real world of work and being slightly self-employed. 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house? 
I moved out when I went to university. I then moved in with my partner's family because of COVID and we have stayed so we can get our first house. 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life? 
I would say I became financially independent at 21. This was after a discussion with my mum about doing my master's and I knew I would be covering everything for myself after graduating from my bachelor's. I suppose living with my partner's family is helping but this is a choice we have made since we could technically afford a rented flat in our home town if we wanted. 
What was your first job and why did you get it? 
My first job was as a waitress at the local pub at the age of 16. It came at a great time and helped me pay for my fancy phone contract and driving lessons during college. 
Do you worry about money now? 
My worries with money vary depending on my stress level, which I think everyone can relate to. On one hand I never thought I could land my dream job in my industry and get to work on amazing projects as a freelancer as well! But on the other hand I understand it is classed as a graduate wage. I would like to earn more and not have the general worries of being a freelancer to deal with. I will say this worry has drastically reduced now my fiancé has got his first proper job after retraining during lockdown. This also means my expenses have gone down since we split our joint expenses – just the food shop, subscriptions and a bit of petrol money but it all adds up. 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain. 
I was fortunate enough to receive £5k from my mother when I turned 18. I was told I could use the money however I wanted but my mum had always envisioned it being used as a deposit on a house. Of course most deposits cost more nowadays so I decided to put it into stocks and shares. I will use most of this towards the house deposit and moving costs but keep some in the account. 
Refinery29 is currently looking for someone who has a NatWest ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ card to take part in a paid opportunity around R29's Money Diaries. This person would need to be a conscious spender and saving up for or considering making a large purchase (£500 and under). If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please do send a bit of information about yourself and your financial situation to moneydiary@refinery29.uk.

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