A Policy Officer In Newcastle On £39,000

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 27-year-old government policy officer living in Newcastle. I’ve lived here for about five years but I was born and raised in Wales. I met my partner, J, in uni and as he has family around here we moved back after graduation. I’m still torn between being here and trying to move us closer to my family in Wales but for now we’re very settled. Newcastle and the surrounding areas have basically everything you could want and they are so cheap compared to some major cities so it’s a no-brainer right now. I’ve been really lucky to fall into a number of jobs that sound really tedious but have ended up being perfect for me. I studied English literature and the careers advice is always 'become a teacher'. My whole family are teachers and I’ve seen firsthand that it’s way tougher than people think so that put me right off. Instead I got a graduate job with a local council, which allowed me to do a range of surprisingly interesting things, from climate change policy to local tourism. My current job is around the impact of new technologies, which I’d never have thought would be my cup of tea but turns out to be absolutely fascinating. I also get to work with ministers, which can be daunting but also really exciting.
I like to think I’ve got quite a balanced attitude to money: I try to save in case of emergencies or for big life events but I don’t restrict myself too much. I really enjoy little treats — I’d prefer to go to a nice but cheap restaurant once a week than save to go to a really swanky place once a month. J and I are married and have a house so I feel like I’ve ticked off some of the really big expenses in the last few years (we did both pretty cheaply) and now I’m free to use my money for more interesting things."
Occupation: Senior policy officer
Industry: Public sector
Age: 27
Location: Newcastle
Salary: £39,000
Paycheque amount: £2,315
Number of housemates: One: my husband, J.
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: My husband, J, and I own a home together, which we bought mid-COVID. We pay £660 to the mortgage every month and then another £600 on bills.
Loan payments: I pay about £70 in student loans a month. We're also paying off a £10,000 loan from my nan towards the mortgage, with £2,000 left to go.
Savings? I have about £3,000 in personal savings, and J and I have another £1,500 between us.
Pension? I have a public sector pension, which I’m repeatedly told is quite generous, as well as a few other pots from previous jobs.
Utilities: £23.28 home insurance, £123 council tax, £50.36 car insurance (J and I share a car), £27 broadband, £125 energy, £22 water, £14.43 road tax, £13.25 TV licence. All of this is taken from a joint account that J and I pay into at the start of each month; J’s a student and I work full time so I contribute slightly more.
All other monthly payments: £30 leisure centre membership, £11 phone bill, £16 union membership. Subscriptions: £9.99 Audible, £9 Now TV entertainment pass.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I went to Scotland to study English lit. I had the minimum student loan; my parents (and my nan) paid my rent and I paid bills and living expenses.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
My parents were really keen to shield me from discussions about money. I always thought we were well off: We had a holiday every year (it was always Center Parcs, which I loved) and we went to galleries and museums and took trips to London. When I was about 18, my parents started telling me little snippets and now I know that pretty much all our treats were subsidised by Nan as she has a really good pension. It’s made me more cautious with money and I always want to have some savings in case anything big happens.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out at 18 to go to uni. I’d live at home most summers if I wasn’t working but I got a job and a flat straight out of uni and have lived independently since then.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I didn't become properly financially independent until I left university at 24. No one else covers aspects of my finances now, though I’m embarrassed to say my dad paid for my phone contract for quite a few years after I left uni.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked for my mum's short-lived catering company when I was 16. I ran the social media profile and baked cakes. I didn't get a wage as such; she would just pass me the odd 20 quid when she got paid for an order.
Do you worry about money now?
Generally I don't worry about money now. J's a student and gets a reasonable if not particularly large student loan, and my salary is decent enough so between us we live pretty comfortably. I maintain a VERY detailed spreadsheet that helps me keep track of our monthly expenses and savings, which makes me feel more secure and able to plan for the future.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
Nope, unless you count the £10,000 lent to me by my nan for buying a house (and I know I’m so lucky to have that).