Money Diary: A 26-Year-Old SEN Teacher Living In Cornwall On 17.5k

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 26 and work as an SEN teaching assistant in Cornwall. I live on my own and rent a little one-bedroom flat. It's nothing spectacular but it's ideal for right now and in a location that I love.
My home is my safe haven so even though I know this particular flat won't be forever, it's important that it feels like a calm place that I can enjoy after a busy day at work.
When I tell people I live by myself, they often give me a slightly "Aww, that must get really lonely" face in response but I love it! After years of living with my parents and in student accommodation then back with my parents it feels like a luxury to come home and not have to answer to anyone and to have friends over (pre-COVID) whenever I like. My boyfriend, D, who I've been with for a year and a half, is in my support bubble and we split our weekends between his house and mine.
The only downside is it can be very tight money-wise, especially being on a fairly low income. That said, I would recommend to anybody to do something on their own at some point in life, whether it's living by yourself for a bit or even just going for a coffee on your own.
I'd say I'm pretty sensible with money. I think it's important to get the balance right between being strict and a bit frugal but also enjoying a treat every now and then. My main goal with finances at the moment is to be able to start saving up for the future."
Industry: Education
Age: 26
Location: Cornwall
Salary: £17.5k
Paycheque amount: £1,295 after all deductions
Number of housemates: None
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £580 for rent. Water and heating are included in that price, luckily. £90 council tax including single occupancy discount.
Loan payments: I don't earn enough to pay back my student loan yet. I'm paying back a small loan from my bank that I took out a while ago when money was very tight – £40.
Utilities: Broadband £18. TV licence I chose to pay every quarter so I don't have so many little bills coming out every month – £40 each time. My electric is on a coin meter so depending on how much I'm home, this won't usually be more than £20 a month.
Transportation: I pay monthly for car insurance (£30) and car tax (£11) as I wouldn't be able to afford the big lump sums in one go annually. Petrol on an average month is about £80.
Phone bill: £18
Savings? £0 at the moment. I'm not in a position to save a lot. In the past I have saved small amounts over time and put it in a savings account but when there have been big unexpected expenses, mainly car-related, I've had to dip into it.
Other: £40 paying back a credit card with Nationwide which was a good rate as I bank with them for my current account. I took this out for emergencies and to build my credit score. £35 on combined purchases on Klarna 'pay in three' which I used for Christmas/birthday presents. It's really useful to be able to pay off big expenses like this in manageable monthly chunks (interest-free) when you're on a low income. This is the last month of that total amount. D, my boyfriend, pays for a Now TV package and I use my parents' Netflix account (cheeky). Spotify £9.99 a month and 100% worth it. I listen to music on the way to and from work every day and have got into podcasts recently, too.

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