I’m a work coach on £36k a year. How can I stop living paycheck to paycheck?

I’m a work coach on £36k a year. How can I stop living paycheck to paycheck?

Welcome to Money Matters: GLAMOUR’s weekly dive into the world of finance. We’re chatting all things personal finance, from contracting rights in the workplace to expert mortgage advice and saving for your first home, to ISAs and dealing with debt, to help empower you to make better choices. Now more than ever, it’s important to understand our money, but so many of us feel as if we don’t have a handle on it – or worse, feel anxious and scared about money.

So each week, a woman in a unique situation will give us an honest breakdown of her finances, and our expert will give her easy tips on how to tackle it.

To submit your own anonymous money diary and get top expert tips tailored to you, simply submit your entry here. And don’t forget to join GLAMOUR’s Facebook group, Money Matters, for more exclusive finance content.

Ashley* is a 25-year-old work coach who lives in London with her family. She earns £36,000 a year, but many of her family and friends rely on her for money. As she’s the eldest child, she feels as though she has a responsibility to look after everybody else.

She wants to become “financially smarter”, but her credit score is currently mixed up with her mother’s; she doesn’t understand ISAs, stocks, and shares; and is constantly dipping into her savings.

She is living “paycheck to paycheck” and cannot afford to do nice things, including dinners with friends, buying designer clothes, and going on holidays.

Here, she shares her money diary…


Current account: £415
Savings account: £700


Annual salary pre-tax: £36,000
Annual salary post-tax: £24,500
Monthly wage pre-tax: £2,666
Monthly wage post-tax: £2,040
Other incoming payments: £0


Rent/mortgage: £450
Bills: £370
Splurges: £300
Other: £200
Any student loans/credit cards/overdrafts: I owe a friend £10,000 after she covered the damage caused by a leak in my home. I also have a student loan, which is taken out of my salary.


My worst money habit: Buying lunch at work (especially Starbucks and Pret A Manger), ordering Deliveroo three times a week, and impulse shopping.

My biggest money worry: Living pay check to pay check and not being able to afford to live by myself.

My financial hopes for the future: Move out of my family home and earn a little bit more and possibly treat myself to something nice.

Current money mood (three emojis which sum up your feelings towards money): 🥴🤧👽

Makala Green is a multi-award-winning Chartered Financial Adviser at Schroders Personal Wealth and has over 18 years of experience in the financial industry. She understands managing money can be complicated and confusing, which is why she is passionate about making financial planning more accessible for all. She is also the Author of The Money Edit; a no shame no blame guide to taking control of your money.

Improve your credit

If you’re struggling with a low credit score, the good news is small changes can make a big difference in improving your credit quickly. You don’t need a 999 credit score, but maintaining healthy credit is key to keeping financial stability. Here are some simple steps to quickly improve your credit: Pay at least the minimum monthly payments on debts on time and aim to use less than 30% of your overall debt limit – the lower, the better. Add your name to the voter’s roll and household bills to boost your credit and ensure bills are paid on time, as missed payments heavily impact your score. Check your credit to ensure you are not financially linked to anyone who could be impairing your credit. If this is the case, ask credit bureaus to remove them immediately. Regularly check your credit to keep up with errors and dispute them promptly. Overall, avoid taking on any debt you cannot afford to pay back to keep your finances under control.

Lending to friends and family

It’s nice to be nice, but lending money to friends and family can lead to financial problems and can potentially cause relationship damage, especially if your finances are not in shape. It’s important to create boundaries for lending money to help preserve relationships and minimise future financial problems. Be honest with family and friends about your financial situation, and don’t let guilt drive your decisions. Before lending money to friends and family, consider how it could affect you financially and emotionally. If you are not in a position to lend money, then don’t. The same applies to borrowing; you want to limit loans to amounts you can comfortably afford or avoid borrowing altogether. Set a plan that works well for both parties and clearly define an end date when the debt will be fully repaid to avoid liabilities ruining loveable relationships.

Build better savings habits

When it comes to money and happiness, we must ensure that money is not an everyday problem; it can be as simple as avoiding living paycheck to paycheck. Building better money habits is about treating money carefully so it lasts and works for you. Being a better saver will help your money go a lot further. A simple way to get started is to prioritise your savings, meaning saving before non-essential spending. This habit will allow you to adopt a more consistent approach to saving. You want to start small with an affordable amount and gradually build up your savings. Focus on building a solid emergency fund you can rely on in emergencies only (ideally, 3- 6 months of expenditure). With discipline and deliberate action, you can build up additional savings, such as ISAs (tax efficient savings and investments), to positively impact your financial future.

Make money work for you

Managing your money carefully is crucial when building better money habits and becoming more financially savvy. “What can be measured can be managed” is a reminder that the most effective way to control your money is to review your financial situation regularly. Start by finding a method to manage money that works for you: an Excel spreadsheet or an app. Be clear on the money you have coming in and what goes out to help curb poor spending habits. Make sure you leave enough room to focus on clearing debts and saving. Ideally, you want to review your income, outgoings, debts and savings monthly to make amendments when needed and make the best use of your money to improve your overall financial circumstances.

Avoid impulsive spending

Impulse spending can be the enemy of financial progress. It’s easy to tell yourself it doesn’t matter because it’s invariably small. But the truth is small things frequently add up. For example, a cup of coffee at £3 every day will cost you £15 per week (Mon-Fri) and £780 for the year. You’ll unlikely buy a house, car or other major purchase impulsively. Therefore, the same level of thought needs to go into smaller purchases such as clothes, books, food, beverages, a gym membership or apps you may never use! Just imagine if you could use all the money you spend impulsively on clearing your debts, hitting your financial goals and building a better future. Instead, get organised by planning meals, making lunch from home and setting budgets for splurges. To curb and control spending, you want to limit spending or opt for no-spend days (essentials only). To encourage yourself and keep focused, keep your goals in sight; try creating a vision board or keep a list of your future pursuits in your purse as a gentle reminder.

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