Money Diary: A 35-Year-Old Student Social Worker On 26k

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 a 35-year-old social work apprenticeship student. I work full time and study at the same time. I am now in my third year and getting ready for my final placement. I live in Derby, which is where I grew up. I’ve never been great with money or savings or living within a budget. It worked when I lived with my parents but now I actually have to budget and pay my rent and bills I'm definitely learning quickly that I can’t just buy what I want. I’m hoping that when I qualify I will have a higher salary. Although it seems whenever my pay increases, so does the cost of living."
Occupation: Student social worker
Industry: Social care 
Age: 35
Location: Derby 
Salary: £25,999
Paycheque amount: £1,644
Number of housemates: One: my sister, M
Pronouns: She/her 
Monthly Expenses
 
Housing costs: £400 for my half of the rent.
Loan payments: £45 student loans, £25 overdraft payment.
Savings? Working on this but not going well at present.
Pension? I pay £140.78 into my work pension each month.
Utilities: Council tax £88.50, internet £15.50, gas and electric £75, TV licence £6.60, home insurance £8.99 (this is my half of the bills, which I split equally with my sister).
All other monthly payments: Phone bill £52.73, Union membership £17.25, car insurance £23.17, car finance payment £127.50. Subscriptions: Spotify £5.99, contact lenses £13, Google storage £1.59.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
 
Coming from an Asian background, there was an expectation for me to go to university (though I'm mindful these expectations may have changed now). I took a year out then I got a degree in criminology and popular culture and media. I didn’t have to pay any tuition fees as my mum and stepdad’s income was below the threshold. I did get the maintenance loan, which helped, and which I am still paying for now. Finishing university and trying to find a job was really hard so I worked for the benefits agency and then got a place on the MA course for social work. I ended up being removed from the course as I was 1% off the mark needed (I've finally stopped crying over this). I got a bursary, meaning I didn’t have to take any loans out, which I was thankful about. Now I am doing the apprenticeship route into social work and I am on my third year. I don’t have to pay for it as my employer covers all the costs and I get paid a wage while I study.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
Both my parents told me to save from a young age. They continue with this advice now but they never taught me any of the practicalities of how to manage money or how to budget. I have definitely had to learn this the hard way, like a lot of life lessons. 
 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I left at 21 and then came back at 27. I moved back out when I was 34.
 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I was financially independent in the years I moved out. When I was back living with my parents I was financially responsible but I recognise that they were paying the bulk of the bills. When the pandemic started, me and my sister had to help my stepdad as he was furloughed. I am currently financially independent. 
 
What was your first job and why did you get it?
 
I got my first job at 16, working in Wilkinson’s as a weekend staff member. I was there part-time for about five or six years. I got the job 'cause my dad kept telling me to. I may have got the job to get an easier life!
Do you worry about money now?
I can do but when I budget it helps this a lot. I’m not the best at budgeting so this is an area I need to work on. 
 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
No.

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