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Money Diary: An NHS Content Designer On 38k

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, in partnership with NatWest Buy Now Pay Later, we're with a content designer based in London.
NatWest Buy Now Pay Later can be used online and in store almost anywhere Mastercard is accepted (excluding foreign transactions), aimed at helping customers shop safely and responsibly in the moments when it matters. By automatically splitting purchases into four equal monthly repayments at 0%, it offers customers a smarter way to spread the cost. With clear structured repayments, credit scoring and affordability checks, along with fraud and payment protection, customers will be able plan their purchases with confidence.
NatWest Buy Now Pay Later is a credit product. Subject to a full credit assessment. To apply you must be 18+, earn at least £10k per year, be a UK resident, a NatWest current account holder and must not already have NatWest Buy Now Pay Later. Maximum credit £1,000 and minimum spend £50. Mobile app required and available with compatible iOS and Android devices and a UK mobile number. Late fees apply.
"I’m a 26-year-old content designer living in London with my boyfriend, H. I moved here for work when I was 19 and while my heart still yearns for the North, I do love London and how much there is to do. Due to this, we recently decided to put down roots and buy our first flat. While we are yet to move in properly, I'm super excited to move to a new area, become a more active part of the community and live out my Grand Designs fantasy of renovating our first home.
Work-wise, this year has been turbulent for me. I was made redundant from my previous job that I’d had for many years, which made me realise how much work had accidentally become part of my identity. I’m striving to create a better work/life balance and, as part of this, learn to manage my money better so that I never feel trapped in a job that doesn’t make me happy. I’ve not had much (any) guidance when it comes to finances in my life, and I’ve become accustomed to never checking my banking app and ignoring my situation to flatten my anxiety around money. However, I’m learning that once you force yourself to look at your spending, it’s actually a relief, and it’s okay if you spend more than anticipated one week because it’s your long-term spending habits that matter."
Occupation: Content designer in the NHS
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 26
Location: London
Salary: £38,760
Paycheque amount: £2,300
Number of housemates: One: my boyfriend, H.
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
 
Housing costs: £435 on my half of the mortgage (£870 total). 
Loan payments: None. This is my first year being debt-free since I turned 18. 
Savings? £4,986 in a stocks and shares ISA (which has consistently gone down in value but it’s a long game, I’m told), £6,500 in an easy access savers account and £750 in a NatWest regular savings account where I round up my everyday spending.
Pension? I contribute 9.3% and I think the NHS pays 20.6% into it now? It’s a great benefit. 
Utilities: £235 for my share of the bills. I’m currently living between two places while renovating the flat so our bills are double and come out of our joint account. This works out as £250 for electricity and £30 for internet where we currently live, and £30 for electricity, £130 council tax and £30 for water at our future home. 
All other monthly payments: £30 phone contract. Subscriptions: £9.99 Spotify, £6.50 Netflix.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I didn’t go to university, instead I did an apprenticeship. It paid less than £11,000 a year but it was fully worth doing for the experience. Luckily I was able to live with my mum for most of this but I think the minimum apprentice wage should be higher to attract diverse candidates.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
My financial education mostly came from learning what not to do. I never went without but I was always frustrated with my mum’s spending habits: buying me designer school shoes one minute and then buying a bag of potatoes to last us for several meals the next (which I definitely wasn’t complaining about). I can now see this erratic spending was a symptom of my mum growing up poor and to some extent I inherited these habits and am working to change them. After my parents divorced, I shared a bed with my mum for a number of my teenage years and we couldn’t afford some basics like a sofa. I think these experiences made me fiercely independent and prepared me for purchasing a property as a couple (I wanted to do this together but have made a plan if things don’t work out between us.) Also, I learned how to make the best potatoes cooked every way. 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
When I moved to London, aged 19.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I’ve been completely financially independent since I left home. Me and my boyfriend put money into a joint account monthly where we split all shared costs.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got a job at a department store the week I turned 16. I needed money to spend on mucking around the Northern Quarter and band badges at Affleck’s Palace. If you’ve ever worked a Boxing Day sale, you’ll know why I quit. 
Do you worry about money now?
I constantly worry about spending on something I don’t deserve or need and I'm anxious about the cost of living crisis (especially as I’m on a fixed term contract). Overall though, I’m considerably less anxious about my financial security now after buying the flat. We spend half of what we spent previously on rent and we're paying towards a mortgage, which has given us some flexibility. We were only able to do this because of luck and good fortune. My biggest money worries at the moment revolve around my mum. I’m an only child and she lives by herself a few hours away, so I feel pressure to find a higher paid job so I can afford to contribute when the time comes. Last winter, she didn’t turn the heating on at all because of the rising costs. The thought of this upcoming winter for people in this country terrifies me.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
I’ve not personally received anything but for full disclosure, the deposit, legal fees and some other costs associated with the flat came almost entirely from my boyfriend’s inheritance. Although he would get all that money back in the event we split up (we signed a sort of pre-nup), I appreciate I’ve benefited massively from his help and I'm very grateful to him.

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