Money Diary: A Student Mum With No Maternity Pay, Living On Her Partner's 13k

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 we're with a PhD student in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. She has an expired stipend on unpaid maternity leave, which means her partner currently supports both of them, and their 6-month-old baby, on his PhD stipend of £13,000 a year. Because she is in the unfunded writing-up period of her PhD, she is not entitled to statutory maternity pay as PhD students don’t pay tax or receive payslips. She is not entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance as she is on maternity leave, nor income support as she lives with her boyfriend. She does, however, get £82.80 a month in child benefits.
She has some money saved up from a few jobs she did before the baby arrived, and some inheritance from her grandma. The family live in her nan's old house in the suburbs of Newcastle, about three miles from the city, which her mum is renting out to them at a cut price. The couple left London when her partner started his PhD as they could no longer afford to rent there and having few friends outside of London did seriously decrease the amount they spent on going out. They also stopped smoking when she fell pregnant.
They feed their dog a raw meat diet, having tried for over a year to find a dog food that didn’t make him very sick. They don’t think he should have to suffer on low quality food because they don’t have enough money, so when they lost her income the couple cut back on other aspects of their lives. Sometimes, if they really need or want something, they will put it on their credit card because they know that one day, they'll be earning enough again to pay it off.
At the beginning of each month, they fill up the fridge and freezer, which is about £80. She makes meal plans each week using recipes from Anna Jones, Ruby Tandoh and Ottolenghi and they shop in several different supermarkets to get the cheapest deals they can. This week she spent about double what she usually does as she shopped for Christmas presents, bought a highchair and winter clothes for the baby and the dog.
Industry: Academia… but I’m currently in the childrearing business
Age: 28
Location: Newcastle
Salary: A big fat zero! My partner is on £13,000
Paycheque amount per month: £0 for me, but my partner gets £1,100 pcm
Number of housemates: No housemates per se, but I do live with one boyfriend, one baby and one dog
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £300 in rent to Mum
Loan payments: £0. We don’t earn enough to pay back our student loans
Utilities: £150
Transportation: Petrol £45. Bus about £20 for me, my partner maybe £40
Phone bill: £15 a month for me, £30 for my boyfriend
Savings? I put £0 in at the moment, but I have a pot of about £10,000 from inheritance and pre-maternity freelance work that I am dipping into when I have to
Other? Food £120, Dog food £60, Credit card bills £100 each, Charity £8 to Mind
Total: £988
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