Money Diary: A Recently Let-Go Accountant In London On 93k

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: "Hi! I’m a 28-year-old finance professional living in London. I work in a very niche area of finance so once I qualified as an accountant, my skills were very in demand and I got poached by a boutique firm. I used this opportunity (with some encouragement from my boyfriend, P) to negotiate myself a salary uplift and sign-on bonus. Last year I bought a two-bedroom flat by myself. For full disclosure, I lived with my mum and sister while working. There is some cultural/personal context to this which I won’t go into but I paid rent (albeit slightly reduced). It meant that I could be around (I also did the majority of cooking, general life house stuff, DIY). I recognise there was some element of luck and privilege to be able to do this. I saw the impact of my parents' divorce on my mum so I’ve always been keen to be as financially independent as I can, even though I’m in a relationship. As the eldest child in a first generation immigrant working class family, there have been lots of obstacles but I’ve been truly living my dream.
 
All this came crashing down last month when, as a complete shock, I was hauled into a meeting and asked to leave my job. After some very upsetting weeks and chatting to various lawyers, I decided to give up fighting my bosses and just leave. I was reluctant to do this as it meant that I had to waive my right to pursue any sexism and racism grievances I had raised. However the negotiation process and the nature of the job (long, intense hours served with a dollop of white public school boy nepotism) had impacted my mental health quite significantly. I am lucky that the payout will be enough to live on for a little bit while I figure out what I want to do with my life. This is a very unusual position to be in! 
 
I am currently in a long-distance relationship with P, who works for an infrastructure startup. We met nearly six years ago through a chance Tinder date. After two years of various dates in random cities worldwide, P and I finally got together in a very snowy and romantic Christmas/New Year visit to New York and have now been together for four years. P’s company transferred him to the US permanently so he is currently going through the Green Card process. Hopefully, some time in the future I will join him.
 
Pre-COVID, both P and I’s jobs involved a lot of travelling and it worked well as we always managed to see each other frequently. There was a rather memorable flight where I spent 14 hours sitting next to P’s boss… Since COVID, P has only been able to fly back twice (adhering to all rules, of course). P’s job is considered essential as it’s in infrastructure. So we’ve spent quite a lot of the past year apart. I moved out of my mum’s into my own flat during the first lockdown so learning to live alone has been a new and exciting (and sometimes lonely) experience. P has been back in the US since the beginning of the year so my mum and sister who live together and not too far away are my support bubble." 
 
Industry: Finance 
Age: 28 
Location: London
Salary: £55,000 plus bonuses which are variable year on year. Last year I earned £93k all in. 
Normal paycheque amount: £2,929 (after tax). Bonuses are paid as a lump sum once a year.
Number of housemates: Just me. Yes, all by myself. 
 
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £1,292 is my monthly mortgage payment on my two-bed flat. 
Loan payments: No loans apart from my student loan payment which is £246 per month (and a couple of grand around bonus time). I have a credit card that I use for work expenses and any large house purchases over £100. The points and lounge access are super helpful when travelling with work/to see P. The balance gets paid in full at the end of the month. 
Utilities: £36 a month for water, £37 for gas and electric, £30 for broadband, £88 council tax, £40 for home and contents insurance (this is paid annually so I save £40 a month for the remaining 11 months of the year in anticipation of my renewal).
Transportation: £0 as I’m no longer commuting to work.
Phone bill: £16 SIM only deal which also includes a subscription to Spotify Premium. 
Savings? Circa £10k split across a few accounts: one untouchable old school building society account with passbook, a stocks and shares ISA (this is a longer term fund with an emphasis on investing in socially responsible businesses) and two regular savers. My savings were depleted after buying my flat last year and I’m trying to balance slowly furnishing it with having an emergency fund. 
Pension: I contribute 8% as a salary sacrifice before tax and my employers contribute 6%. 
Other: Monthly: £25 for dental insurance (I had very bad problems with my teeth and ended up having a root canal a few years ago – this policy covers things that my work health insurance does not), £13 for life insurance (bit morbid but once I completed on my flat I got my financial affairs in order. The policy covers the entire mortgage plus a bit extra in case anything happens to me. I also wrote a will which gives me a lot of reassurance that I will not leave a big financial mess for my family. Although I have a death-in-service policy through work, getting a separate one (in hindsight) was a great idea). £12 for Netflix, £4 for Amazon Prime, £10 for Dropbox, £5 on an interiors magazine subscription, £6 for Microsoft Office, £150 charity donation (every month I pick a charity/cause to donate to – some Christians believe in tithing, which is the practice of giving away 10% of your income. This is something that I was brought up doing. Although I am no longer religious, I try to give away 10% of my earnings each year. I top this up with a lump sum when I get paid my yearly bonus).

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