Money Diary: A Single Mum Of Twins On 20k

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 we're with a woman who works in retail while looking after 3-year-old twins on her own. Despite the excitement payday brings, she often finds herself paying off last month's debts before she gets a chance to plan the following month. However, with a potential new job on the horizon, things might be about to change...
Industry: Merchandising assistant in retail
Age: 24
Location: Bedfordshire
Salary: £19,828
Paycheque amount: After income tax (£125), National Insurance pension scheme (£105.84), and attachment of earnings for my council tax (£101) I am left with £1,178.14 of my work salary. I also get child benefits of £34.40 weekly, and child tax credits monthly, which is now reduced down to £396. In all that's £1,711.74 a month.
Number of housemates: Two (3-year-old twins)
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: For my two-bedroom flat I now contribute £263.74 in rent as I get £45.54 housing benefit based on my salary. Because of my council tax arrears for previous years, they have given me an attachment of earnings, which gets deducted prior to me seeing my wages.
Loan payments: When I was offered my flat it came unfurnished, and so I had to buy furniture and decorate myself, which I am still doing three years on. I took out a hire purchase for a dining table and chairs which I so needed. I'm now repaying £98.51 per month. My very first car broke down at the end of last year, and so I was basically forced to get a new one in order to get to work and travel with the kids. That car was also on hire purchase, costing me £150.16 per month. Plus my car insurance has increased, because it's a newish car. I can't afford to change providers so I'm stuck paying £205.16 per month.
Utilities: I try and stick to a weekly budget to get by. That means spending approximately £160 on food shopping monthly, £80 on gas and electric, £35.50 for my internet and TV. My TV licence is £12.25, and my water bill is £30.18.
Transportation: I spend approximately £200 as I drive to work.
Phone bill: £16.10 as I only pay for my sim card.
Savings? I have been aiming to put aside £100-200 monthly leading up to my holiday to South East Asia. It hasn't been going so well. I slightly regret having booked my holiday, but it was prior to me being made aware of some of the changes to bills I am now having to budget for since working full-time.
Other? When I was previously on benefits they overpaid me. I don't know how they managed to do that, but now I am having to pay £25 per month until it gets paid off for the next year. Bank overdraft £50 per month.
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