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Money Diary: A Project Manager In Manchester On £38,000

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 29-year-old project manager working for a fashion brand in Manchester. I’ve lived with my boyfriend, T, for a couple of years and I recently sold the flat I bought in 2019. I’ve worked at my company for nearly six years, but in the next couple of years T and I are planning to go travelling for a while to enjoy our last few (hopefully!) pre-children years. I’ve always been a spender, and I got into some pretty sticky situations in my early 20s with maxed-out overdrafts and thousands of pounds of credit card debt thanks to my love of fashion and a general YOLO mindset. Lockdown and a medical compensation package in 2020 were basically the reasons I was able to pay everything off. I’m still a spender at heart, but I’m better than I was and I’m now trying to rein it in ahead of our future travel plans. I’m also conscious of building up my savings so I can support myself through any future maternity leave. T earns more than three times my salary, but also works about double my hours, so there’s a lot of give and take in our relationship when it comes to division of finances, division of labour and how we split things equitably rather than equally — for example, I do more housework than him, so he pays for our cleaner.”
Occupation: Project manager
Industry: Fashion
Age: 29
Location: Manchester
Salary: £38,000
Paycheque Amount:
Number of housemates: My boyfriend, T and his dog, B.
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: I don’t pay rent but I pay £100 a month to T. This is based on the fact that my outgoings were always really low before moving in; his were — and still are —much higher. And as I mentioned above, he earns more than three times my salary. It is also worth noting he never asked me to pay anything and was happy for me to live rent free.
Loan payments: £91 student loan
Savings?: £50,000 gained after selling my flat (this is profit plus my original deposit). It’s split between an ISA and other savings accounts for now. I’ll use most of this for a deposit when we buy a house together one day.
Pension?: I upped my pension contributions to 10% through a salary sacrifice scheme (£316), and my company matches this.
Utilities: I pay £500 into the joint account (T does the same) and this covers basically all utilities (council tax, energy, water, broadband, breakdown cover, pet insurance, TV licence) and then our food shopping.
All other monthly payments: £39 phone; £8.99 Amazon Prime; £52 gym; £20 to Abortion Support Network and Crisis; £140 on PT sessions.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it? Yes, I went to university in the first year of fees going up to £9,000 a year. I financed it all with student loans, and didn’t receive any grants, but my parents sent me £150 a month. I was very lucky to receive this, but I also… Lived on only £150 a month. Those were quite hungry years (I know I could have got a part-time job, but I was having too much fun partying).
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I don’t remember really having any conversations. I’m an only child and I never felt spoiled, and my parents lived pretty conservatively, with one car, et cetera. Even when they divorced things pretty much stayed the same, but I guess the fact I never had to worry about whether we were financially secure or not suggests that we were.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents’/guardians’ house?
I moved out at 18 to go to uni and lived in flatshares from then until I bought my flat at 25. 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life? I guess technically when I moved out at 18, but I’m torn with answering this one. Although no one covers any aspects of my financial life, I wouldn’t have the lifestyle I have if I weren’t living with my partner, and there are things that I benefit from that I didn’t or don’t pay for. An example of this is he bought and insured our car, and I also wouldn’t be living in a nice big house if it wasn’t for him. If I lost my job, I know it would be okay for as long as it took for me to find another one, whether that’s because my parents or my partner would support me. Also, I wouldn’t have a huge financial safety net in savings if it wasn’t for my parents helping me get onto the property ladder. So I don’t know whether that means I’m entirely financially responsible for myself, even now.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked in a hairdressers, washing and brushing up hair, from 15 to 18, just to pay for my own bits and bobs. I used to get about £40 a week for two weekend shifts. I actually really enjoyed that job!   

Do you worry about money now?

If I’m being honest, as explained above, I don’t really ever worry, and that’s a hugely privileged thing to say. However, I am conscious of protecting myself in the future, so I will be using some of the money from my flat sale to bulk out my pension pot in anticipation of future maternity leave, and I will keep some aside so I have peace of mind that should the relationship fail, I could live alone again and look after myself.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
Yes, my parents gifted me £20,000 towards my flat deposit. A couple of years before this I got £5,000 in a relative’s will, and I used this to pay off debt (sigh, what a wasted opportunity).