Money Diary: A 27-Year-Old Software Engineer In Gaming On 52k

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 am 27, female, living in London. Single and fiercely independent/self-sufficient! I’ve worked all my life and throughout uni, and am a big fan of the side hustle. I moved out of my home after sixth form (working for a year before to afford uni and paying my mum reduced rent to cover things like bills and council tax while I was living there). I studied a BA degree in English literature and politics, then moved again to do an MSc in computer science. I moved to London with no full-time job in December 2019 and began working at a startup as a software engineer (41k salary) in March 2020. Unfortunately COVID hit and I was one of the many who didn’t qualify for furlough. So I was made ‘redundant’ and worked out a month's notice (while frantically applying for new roles), ending in June 2020. I started my current role the weekend after and so far I am loving every second, although my experience has left me terrified I may lose the job any day.
I am (since the age of seven) from a single-parent household. I have always been very aware of money being scarce – even at primary age I knew when payday was and how to make what we had stretch. I really struggle to spend money, I can tell you to the penny what my shopping will cost before I go and have always been a saver in case of financial disaster and needing to support my sibling/mum. One of my 2021 resolutions was to spend more, save less (unusual!) and I have decided the best way for me to feel able to do this is by spending on experiences rather than physical items. I would love to give my mum more towards an easier life for her but she will never accept it. So I find other ways to contribute when I can (the latest being a robot hoover, which she is treating like a new member of the family)." 

Industry:
Gaming
Age: 27
Location: London
Salary: £52,000 (plus £5k bonus and random 'COVID bonuses' bringing it closer to £60k)
Paycheque amount: I receive £2,718.04. £4,333.33 before tax and £4,183.33 after tax deductions. Before tax deductions are: Cycle to Work £20, salary sacrifice pension £130 (employer pays 10% and tops up with the NI savings), health insurance/benefits £40.51. 
After tax deductions: £641.67 tax, £406.36 National Insurance, £101.26 gym (this should be £62 but they didn’t charge us a half month during COVID so i’m paying back), £145 postgrad loan, £171 student loan (plan two).
Number of housemates: I live in a three-person house (three bedrooms) with two others (P and C).
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £590 rent direct to the landlord.
Loan payments: As above, student loan only and this comes out of my salary before I receive it.
Utilities: Internet £7 (we split £21 a month), gas/electric £26.17 (we split £78.57 a month), council tax £50 (we split £150), water £18.54 (we split £55.63), insurance £5 (mainly for my tech/bike), Pret subscription £20, Apple family storage plan £2.49 (I sometimes use my mum's Prime/Ocado subscription in return).
Transportation: £0. I am very lucky to live in Zone 1 so I can walk everywhere. Last year I had Santander bike membership (half-price for our borough), this expired last month but in the interim I got my own bike through the Cycle to Work scheme. If it's a longer trip or tight with finishing work I have been known to get a bus but this is so infrequent I don’t count it on my budgeting and it would come out of my weekly allowance pot.
Phone bill: £5 (I’ve always bought SIM only, all phones purchased secondhand – usually from eBay or Facebook Marketplace).
Savings? Premium bonds: £35,000. Help to Buy ISA: £7,425.38 (I have no plans to buy a house at the moment but it may be something I want to do in the future so I have left my options open. I didn't get a LISA as I wasn't sure of my end goal and did not want to be tied in – my health is not great so long-term retirement planning is not a high priority for me). 'Emergency fund' spread across various accounts (I switch and change a lot for any monetary gain): £3,141.27. Trading 212 (I did this about a year ago for fun – I am over 36% in the green!): £52.04 
Other: Company stocks: Unsure of exact current value but was given around 30k ($) when I joined.
How I split my salary: Each month, £700 is set aside for premium bonds. I then top this up with any leftover weekly allowance/money from my wages. Usually I aim to purchase £1,200-1,500 of bonds monthly. £200 goes into my H2B ISA. £600 goes to a different account, I then pay myself £150 on a Monday that covers me for the week (I NEVER spend this – for context, during lockdown I probably spent between £30-40 a week maximum and anything left on a Sunday I transfer to my 'weekly leftovers' pot to be put into bonds at the end of the month). £140 goes into my ‘bills pot’ in Monzo. Everything else left over from wages goes into the 'premium bonds' pot for transferral to savings at the end of the month. 
Matched betting: I used to do this daily when I was between jobs. Now I just do it for ‘fun money’ top-ups. I log on daily and do around 30 mins just to keep this updated/catch any good deals.
eBay/selling: I try to stick to a scheme of if I buy something ‘new’ (from Depop/eBay/Vinted etc) I have to make a sale first. This doesn’t always happen.
Current Monzo balances: 'Weekly allowance' pot: £150, 'Guilt-free' pot: £462.24, 'Weekly leftovers' pot: £26.06, 'Bills pot': £140, 'Ski' pot: £700 (this is owed to a friend for a 2022 holiday, I’m just waiting for her to ask for it).
Food subscription boxes: £64 (I pay this from my weekly budget pot. £32 twice a month – apologies readers but I am NOT a foodie, food is a hassle and fuel only to me. This subscription sees the same microwave meal for lunch daily, it's filling and high calorie and is perfect for my lifestyle.
Student loan: I still owe £53,465.11 total. That's £42,617.19 (plan two) and £10,847.92 (postgrad loan -– originally borrowed the 10k maximum). At uni there was hardly any obvious difference between myself and peers who didn’t have the loan, other than I had a job during term/over the holidays. After uni is where I’ve seen the biggest financial gaps. At work, the majority either have no loan or are paying off a plan one (3k a year) loan. In social circles, a lot of my friends didn’t take the loans and are therefore not paying anything back. For me to be over £300 short each month in comparison is a HUGE discrepancy they don’t tell you about.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series