Money Diary: A Triathlete & Investment Analyst In Edinburgh On 50k

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 European citizen working in Edinburgh as an investment analyst for an asset management firm. I grew up in Italy, moved to the UK nearly six years ago for my undergraduate degree and stayed in England for my master's. I graduated during the summer and I had this job already lined up so I moved to Scotland in September. I have been really enjoying the work I do! It is intellectually stimulating and I love my team, although I haven’t ever been in the same room as all of them.
It was strange to move to a new city during the pandemic but I have managed to make a few friends through work, sports and hitting up friends of friends. My partner, J, is a junior doctor in the south of England and before this year we had never done long-distance. It has been a challenge but we have managed to see each other a few times since I moved to Scotland.
Sport is a huge part of my personality (I apologise in advance for the amount of endurance athlete chat in this MD). I used to row competitively at uni but since lockdown it has been harder because of restrictions on competitions and team sports, so I decided to transition into triathlon. I haven’t signed up for a tri race yet but I run and cycle a lot, and I am looking to join a club in Edinburgh so that I can get some proper coaching (especially for swimming). I have also signed up for my first marathon in October! Physical activity has been my coping mechanism during lockdown: I am completely addicted to the endorphins and I love challenging myself and seeing my times improve. It is also a great way to meet people in lockdown and spend time outdoors – win-win! 
 
I grew up comfortably middle class but my family had a very unhealthy culture around money, which was the biggest source of conflict between my parents (who are now divorcing). Becoming financially independent has been my goal since I was little because I never want to be in the same position as my parents. I am trying to save enough to be able to afford a house in the next three to four years. My job has a really generous pay schedule and a clear career progression – and I love it – so I anticipate my financial situation will continue improving from now on. I have not been spending much during lockdown but I will treat myself with a special purchase almost every month (mostly sports kit or stuff to decorate my newly rented flat)." 
Industry: Finance
Age: 26
Location: Edinburgh, UK 
Salary: £50,000 base rate plus 10% guaranteed bonus. This comes as a lump sum in March so I got mine last month, before my base salary was bumped up from 45k to 50k. The firm I work for had the most incredible performance in 2020 so our bonus was actually 30% of pay last year, normally it's around 15-20% consistently. 
Paycheque amount: £2,740. This includes repaying my graduate student loan (~£125/month) and taxes. My monthly paycheque is also net of pension contributions (7% of salary). My employer puts 15% on top of that, which is all invested in a diversified fund. 
Number of housemates: None
Monthly Expenses
 
Housing costs: £980/month for my two-bed flat. I know you can get cheaper places in Edinburgh but when I moved in the summer I knew I needed a separate office space or else WFH would drive me crazy. I also couldn’t do flat viewings because I was moving from the south and it was the middle of the pandemic but my company hired a relocation expert to do the viewings on my behalf, so I didn’t shop around too much.
Loan payments: Student loan included in net salary.
Utilities: £83 for electricity/gas. I know this is awfully high but this winter was FREEZING and I keep forgetting to update Bulb on my meter readings. I should definitely get a smart meter. £93 for council tax and water, £29 Wi-Fi. 
Transportation: £0 regular outgoings. I usually cycle, walk or run everywhere. The only significant change to this after the pandemic will be ~£100/month to travel to see J and my friends in England. 
Phone bill: £10/month for a SIM-only contract. 
Savings? I am embarrassed to admit this because I am *supposed* to know about investments etc. but I am completely clueless with personal finance. I was extremely lucky to have my undergraduate fees paid by family friends, and my family paid for living costs while I was at uni so I managed to build up a bit of savings from the odd job and internship before starting my career. I opened a LISA at the end of the last tax year and I have maxed it out for last year and this one (£8,000 + £2,000 government bonus). I also have ~£14,000 in my Santander savings account, which I should really shift to somewhere that gives me a better rate than 0.005% or whatever it is… I have been looking into S&S ISAs, which I think is the obvious choice for me, but I am lowkey worried about not knowing enough about financial markets yet to even buy funds. I should probably just go for it (I have seen stats about men investing significantly more than women and I think it’s a lot to do with confidence). I also have my work pension: currently, between my and my employer's contribution and the return the fund has generated, there is about £6,650 in it. When I get my paycheque, I usually put ~£350-500 in my savings account (depending on how virtuous I feel). All the cash for regular outgoings lives in my current account and the rest (usually £800-1,200) gets transferred into my Monzo for day-to-day spending.  
Other: Netflix family (J and my mum use my account) £9.99, Spotify premium £6.99, Prime £7.99, monthly gifts to Greenpeace £7 (I should really up my contributions to charities), Zwift £12.99 (amazing training tool for indoor cycling). Gym subscription £23.99, although this has been inactive during lockdown and I am debating whether to go back to the gym as I focus more on cycling and running. 

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series