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Money Diary: A Non-Profit Advisor On £80,000

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 36-year-old woman living in the east of England working in the international development sector. After working in the UK for a few years, I moved abroad to gain experience and worked in crisis zones like South Sudan and Afghanistan. Now that I’m back in the UK, I work from home. I live on my own, and I’m learning to get comfortable with the idea that I may never have a romantic partner, so I try and make sensible financial decisions as I think I’ll always be a single-earning household. Recently I’ve had to navigate the social care system as my mum is unwell and can no longer live independently. This has been unbelievably stressful, sad and eye-opening about the cost of care. I don’t have a weekly or monthly budget per se, but I try to be money savvy: Martin Lewis is my oracle and I’ll use cashback sites when making purchases and will do my day-to-day spending on a card that gives me cashback which I then funnel into spending money for holidays. While I’m a saver and have always put money aside every month, I also do spend when I see something I like — hello, cashmere jumpers in the winter months, high-end makeup, and fancy hotels and Airbnbs.”
Occupation: Advisor
Industry: Non-profit
Age: 36
Location: East of England
Salary: £80,000
Paycheque Amount: £3,695
Number of housemates: None
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £653 mortgage. I make a £47 overpayment to round up my mortgage payment to £700.
Loan payments: None.
Savings?: I have about £255,000 across high-interest savings and stocks and shares accounts. Each month after payday I put around £500-£750 into savings for the long term (the amount varies depending on what is happening that month). I also put £550 split across separate spending pots for Christmas and holidays and annual costs like car insurance/car tax/home insurance.
Pension?: Yes, I have a pension with my current job that has £67,000 in it. I’ve recently upped my contributions to be more tax efficient and because I’m worried how much everything will cost when I finally retire. I now pay in 15% each month and my employer pays in 7%. I also have a pension from a previous job that has around £50,000 in it. Combining the two has been on my to-do list for about three years now…
Utilities: £93 gas and electricity; £23 water; £137 council tax; £24 broadband.
All other monthly payments: £5 automated charity donation; £2.99 Apple storage; £4.90 phone; £19.20 newspaper delivery. Subscriptions: £10.99 Spotify; £4.99 Netflix; £47.50 yoga; £60 annual Calm membership and £38 annual hiking app; £17 window cleaner every 12 weeks and £40 allowance for my mum in a temporary care home every six weeks or so.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it? 
Yes, I went to university for my undergraduate degree and was the first in my family to go to university. I took out the maximum student loan available to cover my three years of study and have since paid back my loan. My parents kindly paid for my accommodation in second and third year using some money they inherited when my grandfather passed.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
Growing up my parents didn’t really talk about money, but my mum handled the finances for the household. She had an A4 notebook and little plastic cash bags to apportion out her and my dad’s spending for the month into little pots, and then would do a reconciliation at the end of each month. I now know that when I was small my dad was unemployed for about a year and money was really tight, thus the paying attention to every pound. My mum always encouraged me to keep a tally of my spending and if I got a credit card to always pay it off in full.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents’/guardians’ house? I moved out at 19 to attend university. During COVID-19 I stayed with my parents for six months or so as my dad was undergoing significant medical treatment. 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life? After I graduated I moved to Manchester for my first job and became financially responsible for myself. When I moved back home temporarily during COVID-19 I did not pay rent to my parents, so I acknowledge that I was able to save more during that time. I did offer to contribute but they refused to accept. By this time their mortgage was paid off and it was such a weird time with lockdowns and treatment for my dad. As a family we were shielding, so expenses were very low.
What was your first job and why did you get it? I got a paper delivery round when I was 13 for about £10 a week!
Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. I know that on paper I’m very comfortable and I have a well-paying job. However, I am in a phase of life now where I am responsible for my mum’s care and welfare, alongside thinking about my own future and potentially having a child on my own. I view my money through the lens of taking care of myself and any children I have and taking care of my mum. I get worried because the cost of care is horrendous, and I want my mum to be safe and happy. As a single person with no siblings, I do worry if something were to happen to me who would care for me or my mum.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
Yes, I’ve inherited income three times due to loss. I received about £15,000 when I was a teenager following the death of my grandparents. I put this money into a savings account and never touched it until I bought my house a couple of years ago. I then inherited £40,000 when my dad died and around £156,000 when my godfather died. I have not spent any of this money and have some complicated feelings around my inheriting it. I recognise that this is a huge amount of money and know that I am very privileged to have such a big financial safety net. I would give this money away in a heartbeat if it would give me more time with the people I loved.