Money Diary: A Charity Communications Officer In Belfast On 20k

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 left university with a vague idea that I wanted to work in communications but ended up getting a job in policy/law. It was a decent job but on a deeply boring subject matter. So after 14 months I left and ended up exploring various roles – I joined a political party and volunteered on campaigns, worked as a tour guide, worked in public affairs, and took on a part-time unpaid comms role along with other work. Until recently, I was balancing two low-paid jobs in campaigns and charity work, but just before Christmas I finally found a full-time, permanent communications role! Breaking the 20k mark was such a massive moment for me.
I think I'm quite good with money. Living on a precarious income for the last couple of years has meant I've been tempted to spend more freely this year, now that I have the reassurance of a regular salary. The time I'm least responsible with money is usually when I go to the pub 'just for one' after work... It's never just one."
Industry: Charity
Age: 26
Location: Belfast
Salary: £20,149
Paycheque amount: £1,305.44 (I recently increased my pension contributions to 5%, which my employer matches with 8%, which has taken a bigger chunk out of my monthly amount)
Number of housemates: 1
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: My share of the rent is £287.50 – yep, Belfast rent is pretty affordable by UK standards!
Loan payments: £13 student loan paid directly from my salary before my monthly total.
Utilities: I pay my flatmate £16 for the internet. We use top-up cards for gas and electric so this varies a lot by month, but on average throughout the year I end up paying roughly £20/month on gas and £10/month on electricity.
Transportation: £55. I buy a monthly bus card which gives me unlimited bus travel in the Belfast area. The bus system isn't the best, but I do use it a lot so this works out as really good value.
Phone bill: £53.97 – I'm aware this is ridiculously high. My old phone broke just a month before I was due an upgrade so I did no research and didn't really negotiate. This amount includes £6 damage insurance.
Savings? I have about £6,000 in savings which I use as a bit of a loan system for myself when I need to. I have most of it in a cash ISA and the rest in two other accounts which I use to save for specific things. I tend to put roughly £200 into savings each month, but often end up taking some back out. At the moment I'm saving for a trip with my mum in September for her 60th birthday.
Other: Spotify: £9.99. Alliance for Choice donation (Northern Ireland's campaigning group to decriminalise abortion): £10. Amnesty International: £1 – I started this tiny donation when I was a broke student and I feel too guilty to cancel it, but also have never got round to increasing it. Gym: £33.50 – I use my local leisure centre, which is also a social enterprise. It gives me unlimited access to any centre around the city and to all classes. With the summer weather I've been running outside more than using the gym, but I want to keep my contract as I know I'll use it more when it gets to winter. Trade union membership: £14.67. Contact lenses prescription: £12.50
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