Money Diary: A 29-Year-Old Victim Support Worker In Durham On 24k

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 29-year-old who works in the area of mental health and community provision for victims services. This basically means that anyone who is a victim of crime gets referred to our service and I support them with their needs: getting readjusted into the community, mental health support, getting involved in activities, support groups, assistance with drug and alcohol services, court hearings, house moves and liaising with other service professionals to aid them on their recovery. I’ve only been in this field for three and a half years. I wanted to make a career change into mental health and ended up taking on four jobs to stay afloat, gain the experience I needed to be taken seriously, and support my family. The third sector definitely isn’t a field that pays you luxuriously, it’s a lot of grafting before you can even make a basic income. Before then I was working in the area of digital media, crowdfunding, fundraising and business development. This work is significantly different from the work I have done, definitely a lot more emotionally challenging and draining but when you get to see how your support has helped and shaped people's lives, it's so worth it. No two days are the same. I do a mixture of WFH and a lot of home visits, community appointments and roaming around Durham."
Occupation: Victims support services
Industry: Third sector 
Age: 29
Location: Durham
Salary: £24k + mileage
Paycheque amount: £1,600
Number of housemates: Four family members
Pronouns: She/her
 
Monthly Expenses
 
Housing costs: Due to living in the family home, I’m currently not paying rent but I pay utilities and other family expenses to make up for the rent I don’t pay. 
Loan payments: £6
Savings? My savings are nowhere near where I hoped they would be at this time in my life but I’ve currently got the following: £5,000 in a LISA (£4,000 I put in and £1,000 government bonus), £250 in a 120-day notice account with Moneybox, £10 in a rainy day fund.
Pension? I was paying £50 into my pension for the last two and a half years. Because I’ve moved jobs a couple of times over the years I hold many pension pots. I’m in the process of putting them all together – I think there’s roughly around £4,000 in all pots combined.
Utilities: Gas and electric £250, TV licence £13.
All other monthly payments: Phone £12, therapy qualification £250, counselling £135, health insurance £15, family expenses £300, charity £50. Subscriptions: Netflix £12.99, Amazon £7.99.
 
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I went to university and completed my bachelor's. I took a maintenance loan out and didn’t qualify for a bursary due to parental income falling outside the threshold. I used to find this unfair as I still had to financially support myself by holding down multiple jobs. A bursary would have been really helpful as there were days I went without food just because I had to choose between paying bills and eating.
 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
I’m a first generation immigrant. My family were poor when we migrated and the sole earner (Dad) was unable to get paid for the jobs he did because he was not white. He would work long hours and get paid for maybe a quarter of the hours he worked so we often relied on pickles my grandmother had packed for us from our home country. From a young age I knew that you had to work really hard for money and it didn’t come easy for you if you were a person of colour. There were a lot of conversations around money. My parents always told us that we didn’t have the money to buy any toys, which of course makes sense when you can’t even afford to buy food. We couldn’t afford to use the washing machine so my mum would hand-wash all our clothes. Their dedication and sincerity pushed me to think about money a lot and be very mindful of it. Things changed when I turned 12 and my dad landed a job that opened some more doors to financial freedom but there was always that fear of being poor and not having enough, which has shaped the relationship I have with money now. I remember my dad always saying how hard he had to work just to make £1 so that drilled home the difficulties of earning money and how it wasn’t readily available. 
 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out when I went to uni at 20. I moved back in the middle of the pandemic in 2020 as I was unable to keep up with my rent payments.
 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I became financially responsible when I turned 20.
 
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started working at 16 in a primary school as a teacher’s assistant. I needed experience because no places were hiring at that time and the racism was so real so I took the first opportunity I could get. I needed this to help me secure better paying positions so I could help my family out financially. 
 
Do you worry about money now?
Yes, all the time. I’m trying my best not to let it get me down and am working through this in therapy. My biggest fear is not being able to support my family when they need it so I can put a lot of pressure on myself, which then leads to burnout and complete exhaustion. I want to get to a place where I am thriving and in a state of good financial flow. 
 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?
Nope.

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