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Money Diary: A Student Money Advisor On £46,700

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 30-year-old money advisor working at a university. I love personal finance and all things budgeting. Since I started living on my own and being on my own debt pay-off journey, I love the power it gives to be able to still spend but meet my goals. I’m in a fairly new relationship and he lives about an hour away from me. We both have our own places, and we take it in turns to do the trip. We split pretty much all our costs fairly: maybe 55/45 in his favour. Over the last four years, my main focus for my finances has been to repay debt. I took a loan out to buy my ex out of our mortgage, and pay my car loan off, with a few bad credit card payments in between trying to keep up with friends. It’s been a few years of sacrificing but the end is in sight. For some reason the closer I get the more anxious I feel that something bad will happen, and I’ll be back in debt.”
Occupation: Student money advisor 
Industry: Higher education 
Age: 30 
Location: Essex 
Salary: £46,700
Paycheque Amount: £2,751
Number of housemates: None
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £350 (my half). It’s shared with a family member who came onto the mortgage when I bought my ex out. 
Loan payments: £5,000 debt — a family member loaned me £10,000 last year to repay debts so I could avoid any further interest. I understand how incredibly privileged I am to have family who could do this. I still consider it a debt and I’m working as hard as I can to repay this. I have £2,800 saved, and in two more paydays I will be able to repay this in full. I put a large chunk of my pay towards repaying this. It’s been four long years of paying this off. The total amount was around £30,000 and I have £5,000 remaining. Currently it averages at least £1,000 a month; this month was higher than usual, at £1,500. I have cut down this month’s spending to cover this. 
Savings?: £1,500 total in my savings. I have various Monzo pots which cover an emergency fund, sinking fund, holidays, car costs, et cetera. There is a small amount in each as I’m trying to focus on paying off my debt. Once I have repaid my debt I will be saving a six-month emergency fund. 
Pension? I feel I have a good pension with my work. I autopay 6.8% and they match it with around 14%.
Utilities: £60 water; £100 gas and electric; £100 council tax; £21 life insurance; £24 critical illness insurance; £24 wifi.
All other monthly payments: £20 phone; £160 groceries; £20 takeaway; £100 petrol; £100 travel; £10 prescriptions.
Subscriptions: £27 Spotify and Netflix.

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?

I did attend university and completed an undergraduate degree. I was funded by student finance, where I got the maximum maintenance loan and the tuition fee loan. I was also a ‘“first generation” student and under widening participation I got a grant of around £1,000 per year and a travel fund that I think was around £500 and then went up to £750. I took a gap year to help support me in university as family couldn’t help. I worked and funded my first year’s rent in halls and it really helped me not to worry about money as much as I did in first year. I also worked various jobs alongside my degree. I would be working at least three jobs at one given time. I had a zero-hour contract at the students’ union, a bank youth-work role and I was also doing retail work to help support. 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
My dad is self-employed so I knew by how much work he had in front of him, how stressful things may get money-wise. I don’t think I understood at the time, but it’s really shaped how I think and feel about money. I knew money was tight growing up but we didn’t go without. We didn’t get taught much about money or saving, but I did see my parents save. They would have a pot for Christmas they would put cash in throughout the year. And they would give us dinner money at the start of the week and it had to last all week or we took packed lunches. It was more my dad’s work ethic that rubbed off on me in regards to money. You don’t get anything in this life if you are not willing to work for it. That’s what I have carried with me as I’ve got older. 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents’/guardians’ house?
I moved out for university for three years, and then moved home for two years while I saved to buy a house. I moved out at 25 when I bought my house.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
At 25, when I bought a house. At first it was split with my ex but that quickly changed. I am solely responsible for everything (and don’t I know it!).
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was working in retail, in a big shopping centre. It’s a right of passage for everyone in the area for their first jobs to be there. I got it as it was the done thing in my house; at 16 you leave school and you get a job. It did only fund holidays and driving lessons as it was part time. 
Do you worry about money now?
ALL THE TIME! I hate to say it but my financial situation occupies about 90% of my brain at all times. Although I’m on top of things, and on paper I would be considered to being doing okay for my age, I don’t feel that way. I don’t have any significant savings or an emergency fund and I’ve lost the best part of a decade for compound growth, as investing is something I want to start once I’ve repaid my debt and saved an emergency fund. The debt has occupied the majority of the stress — thankfully it will be paid off in a few months’ time. I have taken second jobs to help pay this off, as there’s always something to pay for in a house. Living and paying for your own place is such a privilege but there is a lot of associated stresses that come with it.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
I got a small amount (around £1,000) when my grandad passed away. I was given it when I bought my property.