Money Diary: A 23-Year-Old Support Worker On £8.91/h

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’m a 23-year-old support worker living in Cardiff. I graduated last July with a degree in modern languages and translation from Cardiff Uni after moving here four years ago. I’m originally from the south and much prefer the more relaxed way of life in Wales, it is also so much cheaper in terms of renting, going out etc. I live with my partner, D. We don’t have any joint accounts but are pretty good at sharing the cost of everything equally, bar a few treats now and then.
I have a track history of being a spender but since finishing uni I’m a lot more serious about saving and try to look at the bigger picture before buying something, usually skincare or more books that I probably don’t need. At the moment I’m saving to buy a car in the hope of passing my test this year, and also a house or a flat for the future. I should really start an emergency fund but all in good time."
Occupation: Support worker
Industry: Care
Age: 23
Location: Cardiff 
Salary: £8.91 p/h
Paycheque amount: This varies month to month. The job involves doing sleep nights where you work from 9am to 11pm, sleep between 11pm and 7am at the house, then work 7am to 9am, so effectively a 24-hour shift (though the eight hours sleeping are not part of my 39 contracted hours). These sleeps are good little earners, around £200 each, so massively bump up your pay. Generally, I do between six and 11 a month, with my average week including two sleeps and a day shift. My pay since starting has been anything between £1,300 and £1,800. 
Number of housemates: One: my partner, D.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses

 
Housing costs: £350 for my half of the rent for a two-bedroom flat. 
Loan payments: I graduated last July and have not started paying any loans back yet (I don’t think I will be earning enough when the time comes anyway). When I finished uni and left my part-time job to start my current job, it worked out that I didn’t have any form of income for around two months. As I had no savings I took out a 0% credit card with my bank to live off. I spent the maximum £1,100 and currently pay off the minimum, around £10 a month. I am also £250 withdrawn in my student account, which I can pay off when I feel like it. 
Savings? £337.70 in my Moneybox LISA, £106.07 in a Moneybox 45 Day Notice account, a very sad-looking £4 in a simple saver and £100 in D’s NS&I account. My savings are not ideal at all and I do get quite anxious when I think about how little I have compared to other people of my age but I have to remind myself that I only started these three months ago and it could definitely be worse.
Pension? I have one through work though I know absolutely nothing about it. Last month they deducted £60 from my paycheque.
Utilities: £60 for my half of water, electric and gas. £80 for my half of the council tax.
All other monthly payments: My phone £22, my mum's phone £17.21, £300 for driving lessons. Subscriptions: £9.95 yearly ASOS next-day delivery, £5.99 Netflix, £12.99 Odeon, £12.99 The Telegraph (the last two are in the process of being cancelled).
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
University was paid for entirely by loans and I received the highest grant from student finance. I also worked part-time during term and full-time during holidays.
 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
Money was, and still is, hugely stressful. After a messy divorce, our house got repossessed and my mum found herself single and without an income of her own. We effectively lived hand to mouth, with some weeks not having a penny before the next wage went in. Mum tried her best but also had issues of her own, which did not help matters financially so bills and rent often went unpaid. Unfortunately, this is still the case and I often send money to my mum when she needs it. I have educated myself a lot lately about finances and how best to save etc. but it is still quite hard to save when I need to help out every month or so.
 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out at 18 for uni, where I lived in halls and then houses with friends. It only feels like I’ve properly moved out now, age 23.
 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
This is a tricky one as I started contributing to the household financially when I got a job at 16. I would say probably 18 when I received student loans and had my wage every month. At this point I was very aware that if I ran out of money, there was no family member who could help out really.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started my first job in retail at 16 and only left when I got a full-time job after uni. I got this to help out at home, have money to go out with friends and buy as much makeup from MAC as I could. I got it while doing my GCSEs and remember feeling part grown-up and part stressed, juggling revision and working as many hours as I could.
 
Do you worry about money now?
Yes. I think when you grow up poor it never really leaves you. I constantly worry about my mum and how I really need an emergency fund. This year though I am trying my very best to save as much as I can so it takes the pressure off a bit. 
 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
No, and never will.

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