Money Diary: A 28-Year-Old Freelance Voice Coach On 27.5k

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 28-year-old freelance voice and accent coach, mostly working across the higher education sector, teaching in universities and drama schools. I also coach individuals for roles and auditions. I am paid per hour for my work and salaries completely vary from place to place; it can be anything between £25 and £50 per hour. I’ve been freelancing in London over the last few years and was steadily increasing my annual income until the pandemic hit. It was a very stressful time and lots of my work got completely cancelled. I also didn’t qualify for the government self-employment income support scheme as over 50% of my income was from PAYE contracts. On the other hand, I wasn’t furloughed from these jobs as they were term-time only. This meant that during the summer months I ended up applying for universal credit. That and my one-to-one clients kept me afloat until I could go back to work in September. I think I have quite a good balance of saving my money (so I have a back-up if I ever do end up out of work again) and spending and treating myself to things I think I deserve every now and again."
Occupation: Freelance voice and accent coach 
Industry: Higher education/arts
Age: 28
Location: London
Salary: £27,500 (after tax)
Paycheque amount: This completely depends on the month but taking my annual salary into account, on average £2,291 (after tax).
Number of housemates: Two: C and J
Pronouns: She/her
Monthly Expenses
 
Housing costs: £550
Loan payments: I’m currently paying back my undergraduate and postgraduate student loans. This will depend on how much I earn in the year. For my most recent tax return I paid £577 to the Student Loans Company.
Savings? I have around £12,000 in a savings account.
Pension? I have several! When you work a PAYE contract you automatically pay into a pension. I’m currently in the process of collating all my pensions from teaching and old retail jobs into one place via PensionBee. Once that’s sorted I’ll pay 5-10% of my monthly earnings into it.
Utilities: Council tax £43.66, water £11.84, Wi-Fi £14.33, gas and electric are worked out via meter readings but on average it’s about £20-£30, depending on usage.
All other monthly expenses: Phone bill £35.99. Subscriptions: Spotify Premium £9.99, extra storage for iCloud £0.79, Netflix £5.99.

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I did an acting degree at a university where you don’t have to audition for the course. I took out a loan to pay for the course fees and a maintenance loan for living costs. However, this didn’t cover my rent so my dad very kindly paid that for the three years. A few years later I decided to pursue a master’s degree in voice studies at drama school. I took out the postgraduate loan of £10,000, which covered the cost of the course. In the years previous of living at home and working I’d saved the money to pay the rent of my student housing. Again my dad very kindly put around £150 a month into my account to help me out. I also worked retail sales assistant jobs throughout all my university years for extra cash.
 
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?

My parents definitely taught me the value of things and to look after our possessions because they couldn’t just be replaced. We weren’t spoiled but I never went without and my childhood felt comfortable, but I know at times money was tight. I don’t remember specific conversations but I was definitely encouraged to save my pocket money.
 
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
I moved out properly at 25.
 
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?
I would say at 25 when I moved out and moved to London for work.
 
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as an (admittedly terrible) waitress at a local pub when I was 16 or 17. I got it for extra money to spend on myself.
 
Do you worry about money now?

Yep! As a freelancer there’s a constant worry that the work is just going to disappear, I won’t be able to pay my rent and have to move home and start again. This is obviously yet to happen and I’ve been working in my field for almost four years now but the pandemic was definitely stressful.
 
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income?

Nope.

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