Money Diary: A 28-Year-Old Music Journalist On 48k
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 am a 28-year-old living with my dog, P, in zone 2 of northeast London. I moved to the UK from Germany back in 2014 to do a gap year between school and university and worked as a live-in au pair. As the family had three older kids and two dogs I had to look after, I started work at 4pm (once kids came home from school) and therefore was able to have a full-time job on the side and saved every penny I made from that (I didn’t have to pay any bills or rent at the au pair family's and even got £80 a week as pocket money which I spent during my 2.5 year stay there). After that I moved out, continued working as a music journalist for a German radio station and was able to buy my very first share-to-buy property from the salary I had saved. Back in 2017 I got a 35% share (staircased up to 75% in 2021 thanks to COVID-19 and falling house prices) of a one-bedroom flat which even has a big garden (for zone 2 in London) and I pay rent on the percentage I do not own.
I was always working from home so once the pandemic hit, not much changed in that way besides the fact that I am still working on 60% as the music business hasn't healed in Germany yet. I do miss all the weekly free concerts I'd get to go to here in London though, which I worked at, took pictures, taped speeches and wrote about afterwards.
Pre-pandemic, if I wasn’t at gigs with a capacity of 200 in Shoreditch or 20,000 at the O2, I was boxing, running or doing other social activities which were all eventually cancelled. Luckily I still had my dog and could go out and socialise with other dog owners. Without her, I would have been pretty lonely during COVID-19."
Industry: Music Age: 28 Location: London Salary: £48,000 (pre-COVID-19), £29,000 right now* Paycheque amount: £4,000 (pre-COVID-19), £2,415 right now (working freelance = around £2,000 after taxes) Number of housemates: Only me and my dog, P.
*I have other side hustles like nannying and babysitting which add an additional ~£3,000 a year and aren’t calculated in the paycheque amount.
Housing costs: £370.64 (mortgage), £252.16 (service charge and rent for the share I do not own), £77 council tax (single person discount) and £8.88 insurance for apartment. Loan payments: £0. I did not go to university but paid for online courses upfront. I do not own a credit card (which I actually should to boost my credit score). Utilities: £25 electricity and gas, £10 water – I bought a yearly gym pass which is five minutes' walk from mine and as I train five times a week, I shower there. Transportation: £0. I cycle a lot and work from home. My spend might come up to £20-30 if it rains or I meet someone in a completely different part of London. Phone bill: £8, cheapest there is for 3GB a month plus every three months I’ll add £10 credit to be able to call my grandparents in Germany. Savings? I was raised by my mother who was always very good with money. If we had a lot or not, we would always have the same lifestyle, save the rest and not have to worry about the next paycheque. So after each payday, I directly transfer the amount I have left from the previous month into my Marcus by Goldman Sachs account and can only access it on the computer. Right now, I’ve got £21,300 in that account as it has a better than competitive interest rate compared to normal banks. I will use this for extra payments of up to 10% of the mortgage balance (before a charge applies) and I’ll hopefully be able to pay off the mortgage way sooner than expected. I do not have insurance for my dog as quotes started at around £120 a month when I got her 18 months ago. Therefore I put aside £100 every four weeks and have £1,800 in her own bank account.
I’ve also got $5,000 and €5,000 in a safe-deposit box in Germany. This money is the safety safety net which I built up in 2018 while employed as a 24/7 weekend nanny for an HNF (high net worth family). I saved my entire income from the weekend job for a couple of months while working my music journalism job Monday to Friday. Yes, I had no time for myself but this extra makes me sleep at night. If worst comes to worst, I can live off that money for about one year without struggling. Other: My gym membership is £250 a year which comes to £20.83 a month and the raw food for my dog costs around £12.50 every month. I do not have any subscriptions, get a free Spotify code from work and use my mom's Netflix account. I pay £16 for my Wi-Fi monthly.
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