Money Diary: A Woman On 35k Living On A Narrowboat

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 we're with a freelance content producer who lives on a houseboat with her husband in London. Although it means her housing costs are cheap, she does have to move every two weeks and pay to get the toilets emptied. So how much does she save in the end?
Industry: Freelance content producer
Age: 32
Location: London
Salary: £35,000
Paycheque amount: £3k average (£0 some months)
Number of housemates: 1 (partner, also freelance, bills etc. split equally)
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £68.70. I live on a narrowboat, which I own with my husband, so instead of rent or mortgage, we pay a yearly ‘continuous cruiser’ canal licence (£956.74) and boat insurance (£692.45).
Loan payments: £650. I pay a lot towards clearing credit cards but I also spend on another interest-free card and bounce my debt between 0% balance transfer deals. I try not to think about the house of (credit) cards I have built.
Utilities: £90 in winter, £50 in summer (diesel, gas, coal, logs). Electricity is free from our solar panels.
Transportation: £0-£200 depending on where the boat is that month. I bought a secondhand Brompton on Gumtree for £700 after my sixth bike was stolen. If we’re in a central London location I cycle everywhere, but we have to move every two weeks and cover at least 20 miles in a year so there are periods of time we don’t even technically live in London. When we’re on the outskirts, I’ll spend £11.60 a day (the TfL cap) commuting to meetings or shifting in central, or more if I have to get a train in. I need to be in town most weekdays.
Phone bill: £55. I have a £40 a month contract but always need at least a £15 bolt-on because you can’t get regular Wi-Fi on a boat.
Entertainment: £20.98 for my share of Netflix and Spotify and Audible. We share our Netflix login with our friends in return for their Sky Go one.
Savings? £12k but loads of that is saved to pay my next tax bill so I have no idea how much of it is actually ‘mine’. I sometimes google ‘what pension is best for a freelancer’ but have yet to do anything more than this. I have a Help to Buy ISA but there’s nothing in it.
Other: Toilets £12.50. We have to pay to have our toilets emptied. Glam. It costs £25 for both tanks (we’re super fancy and have two loos) and we do it once a month or so.
Laundry £30. We use launderettes as we don’t have a washing machine. To begin with we did it ourselves, but honestly, who has time to sit for three hours watching the machines so no one steals your pants? An Ikea bagful is £30, between two, twice a month.
Fitness £55. I use ClassPass mostly for the posh showers with Cowshed products, and the occasional go on a pair of straighteners.
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