Money Diary: A PhD Student In London On A Bursary Of 17k

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 have recently moved back to London as I got onto the course of my dreams (educational psychology). My life has been pretty turbulent over the last three years. In summary, I went travelling, studied for a master's in Bristol, ended my eight-year relationship (pretty much the scariest thing I've done), did a brief stint living back home with my mum and moved back to London.
I've never been great with money – growing up in a working class, single-parent household and never really learning good money habits did not help. During my MSc, I got into the terrible habit of running out of real money and using a credit card to plug the gap, trying to keep up with my friends who were all in full-time work, and as a result accrued about £5k of debt.
Although lockdown was tough, it was the best thing for my finances. I managed to pay back my ex and two credit cards and am debt-free bar a car repayment (to my ex's parents, yes a bit weird but at least no interest) and an interest-free overdraft (that can wait until I have finished studying). I am trying to retrain myself to have good money habits by opening pots to put bill money into, and I have given my bursary to my mum who is paying me monthly so I have a payday.
I have resigned myself to the fact that I am not going to be able to save much over the next three years, however once I have my doctorate I have a career for life and I will then focus my attention on saving, hopefully getting on the property ladder one day!"
Industry: Psychology/education
Age: 29
Location: London
Salary: £17k, tax-free
Paycheque amount: £1,416 + a variable amount between £100-200 per month as I rent my car out on a car sharing app. I wouldn't have a car in London if I could but it is a requirement of my course (not very inclusive I feel!).
Number of housemates: Three: J, I and K
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £620
Loan payments: £120 to ex’s parents for car repayment, £36.98 car insurance
Utilities: £30
Transportation: I don’t really budget for this as I'm studying from home and when I do need to get somewhere, I try to cycle or walk. I probably spend about £10 per week on random public transport journeys when the weather is bad/too far to cycle.
Phone bill: £23 SIM only. I trade my low phone bill for a phone battery that lasts approximately 60 seconds before it needs charging.
Savings? Whatever I earn from my Turo car sharing app, between £100-200 per month on average.
Other: £4.99 Spotify and Headspace for students, £4.12 (cheers American exchange rate) to The Bail Project, £35 ClassPass, £25 iPad.

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