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Money Diary: A Teaching Assistant On £20,114

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 29 and live in Cornwall with my partner D. I work as a teaching assistant in SEN education, which I love. I’ve been on a bit of a money journey since the last Diary I wrote a couple of years ago. I’m finally feeling in control of my finances having educated myself on everything properly and I’m being kinder to myself about where I am right now, while still having goals to work towards. I’ve found this has really reduced my stress and made my relationship with money much better. I am working on getting my old debts down, which will happen this year. I’m also in a better position to be able to save each month now my rent and bills are less than they were.”
Occupation: Teaching assistant 
Industry: SEN education 
Age: 29
Location Cornwall
Salary £20,114
Paycheque Amount: £1,487
Number of housemates: One, my partner D.
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £500 for my half of the rent.
Loan payments: £50 for a loan I took out for my car a couple of years ago which is nearly at the end, £45 for a loan I took out with my bank a while ago which will be paid off this year.
Pension?: Yes, I pay in approximately £55 a month. 
Savings?: Currently only £690.
Utilities: I pay a bit less than D as he earns slightly more than me — £75 for gas, water and electric.
All other monthly payments: £65 phone bill, £45 car insurance, £60 credit card, £10 for my half of broadband, £11 car tax (I chose to pay monthly at the time as didn’t have the money upfront). Subscriptions: £4.99 for Hayu (and worth every penny because reality TV is my guilty pleasure), £9.99 Spotify.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it? I went away to university and studied education studies. Looking back now, I probably would have chosen to go into an apprenticeship or a learn-on-the-job type role after leaving school instead. We weren’t really exposed to many other options at school apart from going to uni. I had maintenance loans and grants, as well as working part time at a supermarket, to help with food and going out costs. 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I don’t remember having any conversations about money growing up, apart from being told to never get a credit card. I’ve only felt like I’m properly getting the hang of things in the past couple of years through educating myself and chatting to friends, et cetera. I think it’s really important, whatever your financial situation is, to be able to talk openly about it without judgment. Looking back now, we were fairly comfortable growing up. Me and my sister were able to attend clubs and extra curricular activities and we went abroad most years. We were always taught to work hard and I never took it for granted.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents’/guardians’ house?
I moved out to go to university at 18 then I moved back for a couple of years after graduating and have lived either in house shares or on my own ever since. A few months ago my partner and I moved into a rented house together.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
When I moved back home after graduating, my parents didn’t expect me to pay rent, which I’m very grateful for. I was working throughout and straight after uni so I contributed by helping out with food shops or treating us to a takeaway. Ever since then I’ve been financially responsible for myself, although my parents always insist on paying for food/any activities we do together.
What was your first job and why did you get it? I worked as a waitress in a restaurant in town as soon as I turned 16, earning a grand sum of £3.39 an hour! I was desperate to have a job and experience a little taste of adulthood.
Do you worry about money now?
I do worry about money now, especially approaching 30 and having minimal savings, getting on the property ladder, et cetera. Up until a few months ago I was living on my own which, although I loved it, was a drain on my finances, so saving was really hard. I’d get to the stage of having a decent amount saved up and then needing to use it for things like repairs on my car. I have had to use a loan and credit card in the past which I’m nearly finished paying off and am much more educated and savvy now. I’ve lived with my partner for a few months and he earns slightly more than me so we split utilities according to income and pay half each of rent and food shops. I was able to pay more towards my loan and credit card payments when I moved out, too. It’s much cheaper to live with someone else, so I’m in a better position to be able to start saving more.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
No I have not.