Money Matters: Research Associate Saving To Pay Off Uni Debt

Christel Deskins

Welcome to Money Matters: GLAMOUR’s new weekly dive into the world of finance – your finance. These uncertain times have reminded us just how much understanding our money matters and yet… how little we talk about it and how much it’s shrouded in secrecy.This stops now. Keen to break that […]

Welcome to Money Matters: GLAMOUR’s new weekly dive into the world of finance – your finance. These uncertain times have reminded us just how much understanding our money matters and yet… how little we talk about it and how much it’s shrouded in secrecy.
This stops now.
Keen to break that money taboo, we’re chatting all things personal finance from daily budgets to ISAs and pensions. Each week, a woman in a unique situation will give us an honest breakdown of her finances, and our expert will tell her easy tips on exactly how to tackle it. So, grab a cuppa, take a seat, and let’s talk about money…

I make £2,000 a month working two jobs – how can I afford to rent my own place while paying off my debts and saving for the future?

Lynsey* is 24 and works in professional services as a research associate in Sheffield. This is her money month…
I am originally from South America and I came to the UK for university in 2015. My parents very generously paid for my tuition and part of the maintenance fees, but I had loads of jobs throughout uni as well. I’ve been a fundraising caller, freelance journalist, waitress, PR assistant, translator, international student ambassador, and a whole bunch of other jobs. I also did several (unpaid) work experience placements, but some of the expenses were thankfully funded by an initiative at my uni.

After graduating, I stayed up North, moved in with my boyfriend and started applying for jobs. I got loads of rejections and was unemployed for three months, but kept myself afloat by doing some temporary work/freelance bits and having bounteous people in my life. Fortunately, in the end I got an 18-month fixed-term job on £32k with the same university I graduated from, which was a huge achievement and I didn’t expect to get it at all! I was very very happy.

A year or so into the job I (along with the rest of my team) got told we were going to be made permanent, but then management backtracked it less than a month later and said it was only going to be an extension. I felt blindsided and started having concerns about job security, so I went to look for another job and found a permanent position, similar to my role, in a big London university and with a significantly higher salary. I applied with no expectations at all, it was too good to be true, but ended up getting through the recruiting process and being offered the job, which is the one I currently have.

I was due to move to London for my new job in April but with the pandemic and lockdown this was delayed and I’ve been working from home ever since, with WFH prospects until early next year. This means I’ve been earning a London wage for the last four months while paying Northern expenses, which has allowed me to save a lot of money (I currently put at least 60% of my salary into savings monthly).

All my savings are going towards paying my parents back for university. They say I don’t need to, but I feel immensely responsible to do so, international fees are no joke!

What to do if you’ve been made redundant or think you might be? We asked the experts…


Current account: £1,200
Savings account: £17,000


Monthly wage: Pre tax: £3,487; post tax and pension: £2,675. My annual salary is therefore £41,844 pre tax and £32,100 post tax and pension deductions.
Monthly wage post Covid-19: hasn’t changed
Any other incoming payments: I have two ongoing freelance gigs, usually I get £150 for one/two days of work, but they are very sporadic.


Rent: £250 (it’s £500 in total but I split it with my boyfriend)
Bills: £123 (including council tax and mobile)
Other: Spotify £10
Splurges: Takeaways and skincare. I don’t buy expensive stuff in general but ever since I started earning a bit more money, I started splurging a little more on higher-end sushi (my favourite food of all time) and skincare products.
Weekly budget: £100-125
What I spent this month: £900. This month was more than usual because I bought some new clothes and a good-quality bra I desperately needed.


£44k to my parents for university – not a serious debt, they aren’t charging interest and insist I don’t have to pay them back but doing so is my current No.1 goal in life.

I work in education on 19k a year, £1,650 a month. I live at home and have cleared my debts, but still can’t afford my own home


What I want to save for: Paying my parents back, UK citizenship (the whole process will cost me about £1,500 and a lot of patience for bureaucracy) and a trip to Japan.
How I want to plan my money for the future: I sort of have two pensions; a proper work one, which has been active for the past two years, and a Lifetime ISA where I put £50ish/month. My idea is to maybe use the ISA for buying a house but at the same time I don’t really care about property very much because I plan on moving to another country for a little while after I get citizenship.
I guess I can just add it to my retirement savings if I don’t buy anything, I’m not really fussed about it. Additionally, I feel like I’ve got too many things going on at the moment to even consider investing. I wouldn’t want to do anything before doing a lot of research and talking to people and I just don’t have the energy/time to do it now, but I don’t rule out looking into it in the future.
My plan is to pay my parents back in the next three to five years in instalments of £10k a year. I should be getting citizenship in between that time, and once that’s done, I’ll start looking into moving abroad.
My worst money habit: Takeaways. I’m really well-behaved during the week and make all my meals, I enjoy cooking and I’m good at it too, but come the weekend and I’m buying one, two or three takeaways throughout it! My reasoning is “I’ve cooked all week, I deserve this, treat yourself!” and I’m great at giving myself what I want. I definitely lack discipline!
My biggest money worry: Not paying my parents back. Even though I feel pretty confident about this with my new salary, I still worry I won’t be able to take care of them like they took care of me. This money will be a good chunk of their retirement (if not the biggest) so I need to come through! I’ll probably take on more freelancing gigs in the future to make sure I’m good on my promise.
Current money mood: ? ? ?

The UK is officially in recession for the first time in 11 years, so what exactly is a recession, and how badly will it affect millennial women?


1. Keep it flexi
If you’re not sure what you’ll be doing or where you’ll be in five years, hitting pause on your plans to invest is a good idea. Cue the financial advisor’s favourite phrase: ‘it’s time IN the market that matters, not TIMING the market.’ Basically, to minimise the chances of losing money as an investor, you want to have a good five years or more to lock away your savings and let it do its thing. Instead, using your Lifetime ISA to boost your retirement savings and making the most of the flexibility that comes with renting, is a sensible plan.

2. Turn away from the takeaway
We’ve all been there, it’s 7pm on a Friday and despite every intention to become the money-saving queen we all aspire to be, you’ve hit up your favourite app and before you know it £40 worth of sushi is winging its way to your sofa. There’s nothing inherently wrong with takeout, but one £40 splurge a week is £160 a month, which is almost £2,000 a year. So how to combat it? Firstly, work out what’s affordable for YOU. Set yourself an annual and monthly budget that feels sensible and in keeping with your financial goals. Next, work out how many orders a week/month that allows. Finally, delete the apps, unsubscribe from those enticing emails and enjoy your takeouts guilt-free.

3. Have the conversation
Your big financial goal to pay back your parents for your university education is a wonderful thing and understandably you want to take care of them as they get older. However, reflect on where this worry is coming from; I don’t know the details of your parents’ finances, but is it grounded in a real and justified concern for their wellbeing or are you holding some guilt about the financial support they’ve given you? Maybe it’s both. Having an open and honest conversation with them might be a good place to start.

4. Make a plan
Once you’ve had a chat, start planning. Break down however much you’re committed to paying back into manageable chunks that align with your parents’ own plans for retirement and financial needs. Importantly, make sure this is affordable for you. Building your emergency fund and thinking about your financial future should also be a priority – I’m sure your parents would want that for you too. After all, what was that university education for!

5. Get that extra cash
With your wealth of experience in journalism, PR and beyond, upping your side-hustle game to earn some extra cash shouldn’t be difficult. Think about selling a skill worldwide on websites such as Fiverr or People Per Hour. Sign up in minutes, set up your ‘gig’, include previous examples of work, some testimonials and you’re away. For more inspiration, take a look at this side hustle guide.

Alice Tapper is the author and founder of Go Fund Yourself.
*Name has been changed. Join GLAMOUR’s new Facebook group, Money Matters, for more exclusive finance content.

I am freelancer who was earning £43k – until I lost 4 months’ earnings during the pandemic. Here’s how I’m managing my money

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