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Money Diary: A Nursery Practitioner On £21,840

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 31, married and child-free, living in north-west England. I have lived in the same town for my whole life and moved in with my boyfriend (now husband) a few years ago when we bought our first house. I work full time, as does my husband, and we bring in a similar wage each, and contribute 50/50 to all household expenses. We do have a joint account, but this is just for our mortgage and other bills and we have direct debits set up for the relevant amount to move over to this account on payday. All of our other money is separate. I work for a nursery, running the before and after school club and the holiday club. I also cover some hours in the nursery to make my hours up to full time. I love going on holiday and always have a holiday or two planned. To fund the holidays I enjoy, I am sensible with my money, saving as much as I can each month and also babysit occasionally to supplement this. I have a sensible attitude towards money, as my parents have always been savers as opposed to spenders. Although I have a relatively low-paid job, I am always on top of my budget and factor every little spend in each month, even including our weekly takeaways!”
Occupation: Nursery practitioner/out of school club room leader
Industry: Childcare
Age: 31
Location: NW England
Salary: £11.17 per hour (£21,840 per year) 
Paycheque Amount: £1,537.41 after tax (this has increased very slightly recently due to NI contributions decreasing).
Number of housemates: One, my husband E.
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £242.95 for my half of mortgage. We got a fixed rate mortgage for seven years in November 2022 — very happy with that!
Loan payments: £103.27 (this isn’t an official loan, but a standing direct debit to my mum every month as she lent me the money for my car).
Pension? £39.04 each month automatically taken from my payslip, not sure what % this is but very low. Obviously, this is not very much at all and I know I need to look at increasing this in the next couple of years, realistically.
Savings? £1,200 and then £2,250 in another separate savings account that is earmarked for a big holiday I am booking soon.
Utilities: £133.55 for my half of water, council tax, internet et cetera. £80-£100 on gas and electric (we are still on an old-fashioned payment meter).
All other monthly payments: £56 phone contract; £2.99 iCloud storage; £6.99 phone insurance; £29.71 car insurance; £14.43 car tax. Subscriptions: £14.99 Odeon Limitless; £3.70 Twinkl (I pay half with a friend); £6.99.Netflix.
Did you participate in any form of higher education?
Yes, I completed an undergraduate degree in early years and childhood studies. This was £9,000 per year and paid for with student loans. I don’t currently earn enough to pay any of this back. I also had around £3,000 per year in maintenance loans, but mainly saved this as I worked during university, lived at home and didn’t go out much as I don’t drink. Later, I did my early years teacher Status qualification, but this was fully funded by the NCTL and I worked full time during this. 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I grew up in a nice house with my parents and two sisters, we all had our own bedrooms and yearly holidays (either in the UK or Europe) but my parents didn’t waste money on us pointlessly. At 17, I started my first part time job. I didn’t pay rent or board, but did buy my own food and toiletries, paid my own phone bill, and so on. We talk very openly and honestly about money and I plan and budget for EVERYTHING. I wish I had been more serious about savings a little earlier than I was, but I enjoyed my earnings at the time and I’m thankful that I am sensible with money now.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents’/guardians’ house? 
I bought my house with my husband (then boyfriend) when I was 25 (six and a half years ago). My parents gifted us £10,000 towards our deposit. 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life? 
Fully responsible from 25 when I moved out, before that I was responsible for my own food, clothes, phone bill, toiletries, et cetera, but did live at home for free as I did not pay board. I bought my own car when I passed my test at 21 and have always paid the costs associated with my car. My mum has since bought me two cars (not at the same time!) that I pay her back monthly for. She won’t “let” me waste money paying a car loan back when she can comfortably afford to lend me the money, so I am very grateful for that!
What was your first job and why did you get it? 
I worked at McDonald’s from the age of 17. I wanted a part-time job so I could afford to buy clothes for myself and hang out with my friends more.
Do you worry about money now? 
No, I don’t. I’m very careful with my money and definitely wish I had more (ha ha), as my taste in holidays is definitely far too expensive for my income! BUT I don’t “worry” about it as my priority will always be having a roof over my head, food in the fridge and money on the gas and electric meters. I don’t have much in savings, but it is enough if anything happens on a day-to-day basis. I like having that security and will be focusing much more on building my savings up in 2025 and beyond.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
When I was 18, I got £1,400 from my grandparents. This did not last very long unfortunately as I was young and just been handed over a thousand pounds! Then the £10,000 towards my house deposit at age 25 from my parents.