Money Diary: A VFX Production Coordinator On 34k

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 26-year-old from Sweden who moved to England in 2015 to study at university. After university I moved to London and did various runner jobs in the media industry. I’m currently a VFX production coordinator at a large studio. The film and TV industry is notorious for being built by and for people from upper-middle-class backgrounds and it’s hard to break in without contacts or the financial means to do low paid/unpaid work. I try to do my part to change this and have managed to get two well-known VFX studios to implement London Living Wage.
I currently live in a two-bedroom flat with my best friend from university. We’ve both had stints of unemployment since we moved here two years ago. I was fortunate enough to be employed for most of the pandemic so I’m trying to build up my savings to maybe someday be able to afford to buy a property."
Occupation: VFX production coordinator
Industry: Film and TV
Age: 26
Location: London 
Salary: £34,000
Paycheque amount: £2,100
Number of housemates: One: my flatmate, B.
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £825 for my half of the rent after being hit with a 10% increase last month.
Loan payments: £70 to the Swedish Loans Company and £37 to Student Finance England (the latter is taken straight from my paycheque).
Pension? I contribute 5% per month and my company pays 3%. I have no idea how much pension I’ve accumulated so I should probably check on that.
Savings? £14,500 in the UK and £6,000 in Sweden.
Utilities: £45.50 council tax, £16.90 internet and about £10 water (paid every six months). Gas and electric fluctuates but with the spike in energy bills I paid £45 last time.
All other monthly payments: £10 Giffgaff pay as you go, £16.50 and £20 a year to Swedish housing queues. Subscriptions: £22 Bectu union membership, £4 Microsoft Office, £10 Netflix, £6.67 Disney+.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I have a BA in film production from an English university and a quarter of an MA from a Swedish university, plus additional odd modules from Swedish universities that I’ve done for fun. My undergraduate was paid for with the Student Finance England loan, and the maintenance loan taken from the Swedish Loans Company. Sweden has a very generous student loans system with every student receiving grants and loans, so I got around £1,000 a month. Education from Swedish universities is free and I didn’t take any maintenance loan for that as I did it while studying for my undergrad and working. 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
My dad grew up in a quite poor, working-class home, while my mum had a more comfortable background. But as all education in Sweden is free, my dad was able to study and become a consultant civil engineer, which is well paid there. I grew up in central Stockholm and my parents also own a holiday home in the archipelago so money was never tight. But as my dad grew up in poverty, he’s always been good with money. I was taught from an early age to save and budget (I received pocket money) and I’ve grown up with a good relationship with money. Seeing savings as a set expense is something I’ve learned from my parents and with my current salary I’m very privileged now to be able to save.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out when I was 19 and moved to England to study. 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
Some would probably say that I became financially responsible for myself when I moved out at 19 but my parents would still cover large expenses such as flights and winter clothes, as well as my orthopaedic soles, which are done annually at a private hospital. When my own money was tight when I worked as a runner, I had a savings account set up by them, and they helped me pay off some student loans when I was unemployed during the pandemic.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
When I was 17, I wrote and sold a play to a local theatre in Stockholm, which a then-friend recommended me for. It’s an odd one so the first proper jobs I got was when I was 18 and did babysitting and worked as a charity fundraiser in my final year of school.
Do you worry about money now?
I think everyone worries about money at some point but I don’t think I’ve ever truly worried about not being able to afford to live. As I’ve elaborated on already, I think it’s important to recognise that it’s not just about the money in your own pocket but the access to money you have – that’s where privilege comes in. 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
Yes, my parents saved for me and I received about 125,000 SEK (£10,000) when I turned 19. I also received a pre-wedding gift from my grandparents before they died, which was 10,000 SEK (£780).

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series