Money Diary: A Policy Advisor In London On 28.5k

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’m a 23-year-old civil servant living in London with my partner. I have lived here for nearly five years now and this is my first full-time job as I was studying beforehand. My partner is still a student and in the next few months we will be moving out of our flat to live with separate people as his course requires him to move out of London for nine months.
I am still adjusting to managing my money independently and standing on my own two feet. This means I’ve definitely spent more than usual this year but I also have a big trip planned, which has definitely contributed to the spending. I think I probably treat myself a bit too much but I also struggle a lot with guilt from spending so I’m currently trying to find a happy medium."
Occupation: Policy advisor
Industry: Civil service
Age: 23
Location: London
Salary: £28,500
Paycheque amount: £1,754 (rising to £1,813 next month).
Number of housemates: One: my boyfriend, M.
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £750 rent for my half of a two-bedroom flat.
Loan payments: I have two student loans, which are deducted from my paycheque. I also have about £400 to pay off across two credit cards – I try and pay off at least £50 each month.
Savings? Around £15,784. £2,913 in a high interest account, which I add a bit to every month. I also have £1,438 in a Lifetime ISA, £75 in a Stocks and Shares ISA and £1,058 invested in other shares. My parents also have about £10,300 in a savings account for me, from birthdays and gifts when I was younger.
Pension? I pay 5.45% into it and my employer contributes around 26%. Yay for public sector pensions!
Utilities: £89 council tax (I pay two thirds of the council tax as my partner is a student and isn’t eligible to pay, though he still pays a third of the overall bill). £52 direct debit to my partner for 50% of our bills (Wi-Fi, water, electricity and gas).
All other monthly payments: My parents still pay my phone bill but I’m sure this will change when my contract expires in three months. £32.99 gym membership. Subscriptions: £9.95 Estrid, £7.50 recycled toilet paper.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I have two degrees from a London university and I took out student loans to cover as much as I could. My parents very kindly covered the rest of my living expenses. I tried to keep my living expenses down because of this but London is of course very expensive.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I come from a fairly well-off household but my parents are also self-employed and own a business together. This definitely taught me that while money is to be enjoyed, it's important to have a good safety net as things could change at any given moment.

If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out for university when I was 18 but still returned for some weekends and holidays. This is my first year in a full-time job and so my first year fully living away from home.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I would say at 22 when I started working. However, my parents have supported me as I adjust to having a set income and fending for myself. I try really hard not to but I do worry that I rely on them too much sometimes.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked in my parents’ office from about the age of 14, doing admin tasks. I didn’t particularly enjoy it but it gave me more pocket money and I know my parents appreciated the help. At 17 I went to work in a call centre to get another name on my CV that wasn’t my parents!

Do you worry about money now?
Yes. I know that I have an objectively good starting salary and an incredible safety net but I worry I spend too much (especially towards the start of the month) and that I’m too impulsive and as such will never reach my financial goals. I really struggle to walk the line between saving for the future, reaping the rewards of my hard work to get this job and enjoying living in London as a young professional. I often flip-flop on this and it's something I need to work on for my financial and mental wellbeing.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
No.

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