Money Diary: A 36-Year-Old Teacher On Maternity On 44k

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 36-year-old teacher from Leamington Spa. I have been living here for the past 10 years. I’m originally from Birmingham, although absolutely love Leamington so I see my family being here for the long term. My husband and I finally upsized at the start of this year after living in a small two-bed for six years. We now live in a lovely four-bed with a large garden, which is ideal for our three children. My husband also recently changed jobs and is now earning £50k. We are comfortable financially but I would describe us as a very normal family who live well within our means. I am a saver as I saw how much my family struggled financially when growing up. I haven’t changed my lifestyle despite my earnings increasing over the years so I don’t need to worry about money now. We were contemplating sending our son to a private primary school but have changed our minds as we don’t want to feel like we have to keep up with the Jones’ so will be sending him to the local village school (which has a good reputation)."
Occupation: Secondary school teacher
Industry: Education (private sector)
Age: 36
Location: Leamington Spa
Salary: £44,000
Paycheque amount: £2,275 normally but currently on maternity leave (month three of 12 months, I am taking the full year off). This is after 10% is taken for my pension, plus £243 childcare vouchers and £50 for an additional pension lump sum. The maternity pay in teaching isn’t too bad at all. You get 100% for four weeks, 90% for two weeks, 50% + SMP (statutory maternity pay) for the next 12 weeks and then only SMP for the next 12 weeks. The final 12 weeks you get nothing. I timed my pregnancies so I will work a few days before the summer holidays and then be back on full pay. Therefore I will only have about four weeks on nothing. I am currently on the 50% + SMP stage so received £1,589 this month. We also receive DLA of £344 as my daughter A has special needs. We also get child benefit of £196 for our three children.
Number of housemates: My husband (T), my three children (E, A and S) and cat (D).
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £962+ £238 overpayment to round it up to £1,200 total. Split the cost with my husband so pay half each.
Loan payments: None. I had my university fees paid through a bursary. This was due to coming from a low-income family.
Savings? I normally save £600 a month although now I’m on maternity I’m only saving £100 a month. I also invest £50 a month in stocks and shares through the Evestor platform. I have paid in £5,400 and it's currently worth £6,300. I have a further £35,700 in various savings accounts, some easy access such as Nationwide and NatWest (although they have rubbish interest rates now) plus some in Atom (fixed saver so can’t access for a few years but has a better interest rate) and also some cash in premium bonds. My husband and I both contribute £20 monthly for each of our children which goes into a stocks and shares ISA plus a savings account (£40 total together and half into each account).
Pension? I pay in 10% of my salary (around £250) and my employer contributes a further 16%. This will soon be rising to 23% so many private schools are pulling out of the scheme. I pay in an extra £50 monthly (pre-tax) as an additional voluntary contribution (AVC) so I’ll have a small lump sum from that when I’m around 57.
Utilities: Water bill £120 quarterly, internet £24, council tax £201, Bulb £57 (recently lowered as we had built up too much credit).
All other monthly payments: I halve the following payments with my husband: home contents insurance £12, Ecologi £14 (a company which invests in environmental projects and plants trees on your behalf). Roughly £600 a month childcare fees (A is at school so there is no cost and S is home with me for now so we only pay for E. This will go down even further as we will soon get the 30 hours free from the government. We have had low childcare costs since September as A started school and we enrolled E at a private nursery which is owned by my workplace so I get a 60% discount. From my personal account, I pay £9 phone contract, £25 pet insurance and £20 a month to charity. I pay my car insurance in one go at the start of the year, roughly £400.
Subscriptions: Netflix £5.99 paid from the joint account. I pay £9.99 biannually for a copy of Cosmopolitan.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
My parents were immigrants and always stressed the importance of being educated to better ourselves and be financially independent. I did my three-year undergraduate degree in my hometown so I lived with my parents and had no student loan. Fees were covered through a bursary for low-income families. I then moved away for a year to do my PGCE. I received a £9k bursary for this due to it being a shortage subject, which covered my rent and living costs. I did some supply work at the end of the course which cleared my overdraft so had no debt.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
We didn’t talk about money as a family although I knew my parents struggled financially. My siblings and I had a very happy childhood and never felt we missed out on anything, although I received money from the government in sixth form as we were a low-income family (education maintenance allowance or EMA). My dad was in quite a bit of debt but we only realised this after he passed away, which caused considerable stress.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out for my PGCE aged 21 for a year and then moved out again for a year when I was 23. I finally moved out for good when I was 26. My parents were traditional and religious and expected me to live at home until I was married. This didn’t happen but they finally got over it.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
From when I started my PGCE. However I moved back home and did not have to pay rent as that is not normal in my culture so I suppose I only became truly financially independent aged about 26, when I moved out for good.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at my local doctor's surgery as a receptionist when I was 16 during the holidays. I also worked as a sales assistant at Peacocks every weekend when I was at university. I wanted to have money to go out with my friends and I knew my parents couldn’t afford it. They encouraged me to get a job to learn responsibility.
Do you worry about money now?
I don’t worry about money now, although because I come from a low-income background I am much more sensible than I maybe would have been. I was a bit frivolous in my 20s but I am very responsible now.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I was very surprised to be given £80,000 by my mum around two years ago, which went towards our deposit when we upsized to our bigger house. We could have afforded our current house without this money but it meant we have a shorter term and smaller mortgage to pay off. My brother bought our family home from my mum and my mum lives with my brother’s family now. We were each given 25% of the money from the house sale, which was a lovely thing for my mum to do to help us out.