Money Diary: A 27-Year-Old Renovating A Cottage In Devon On 36k

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 people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period – and we're tracking every last penny.
As every person's financial situation is unique, going forward we're asking diarists to complete a series of financial-based questions to provide readers with more context to their relationship with money. Please remember before commenting that the diarists are from a range of backgrounds and cultures and their experience, education and mental relationship with money might be very different from yours. Money Diaries are designed to provide readers with diverse experiences of spending, saving and asking for more in the hope that by learning from each other, we can build a more positive financial future together.
This week: "I’m a 27-year-old who recently moved into a 300-year-old cob cottage in Devon after selling my ‘practical’ and ‘convenient’ city flat. I’m single and live on my own, apart from my cats. The house is definitely a renovation project, inside and out, but it’s absolutely charming and I see it as the home where I’d want to raise a family in the future. Children are definitely in my long-term plan, although dating isn’t very high up my priority list at the moment.
I have lived in Devon since 2015 after moving down for an MA and have worked for an emergency service since graduating, where I currently work within ICT. I’ve been in my current role nearly two years and split most of my time between acting as a technical analyst and managing data. I also have a secondary role as a loggist, which means I’m often on call during evenings and weekends. A loggist is used when there’s a major incident or something particularly complex that might go to court or have an inquest that needs to be captured. Those jobs can be pretty emotionally draining but we have fantastic welfare provision so I have a safe space to talk about things. I consider myself very fortunate to have the salary that I do, especially in the West Country, and have managed to save a lot, particularly over the pandemic. I saved about £11k in 2020, which enabled me to make the leap to my new home. The move did stretch me financially though, so I’m having to be a lot more careful about day-to-day spending now, to make sure that I have enough for the key renovations."
Occupation: ICT lead
Industry: Emergency services
Age: 27
Location: Devon
Salary: £36,000
Paycheque amount: £2,100 (this is usually augmented by about £100 depending on how many weekends I’m on call for).
Number of housemates: None
Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: £700 mortgage, which includes life insurance and critical illness cover. I get the 25% single occupancy discount on my council tax, which brings it down to £140.93 per month. 
Loan payments: I’m on a Plan 1 student loan repayment.
Savings? Moving house has severely depleted my savings but I still have £2,500 in an ISA, £5,000 in an easy access savings account and £11,000 in a SIPP. I put £300 per month into my savings account and whatever is left at the end of the month goes in there too. I’m currently looking at options for my savings as I think I could be doing better than the 0.55% interest I’m currently getting.
Pension status: I have my SIPP and also pay 6.5% into my workplace pension. 
All other monthly expenses: My phone is £12 per month on a SIM-only contract. I spend £22.99 on broadband, £25.76 on water and £75.39 on energy. I have various monthly payments for my three cats including £16 for flea/worm protection and £12.80 insurance for two of them. D2 is an elderly boy that I’ve just rehomed after his previous owner passed away so he’s on a separate plan for senior cats that costs £17 per month. I have various monthly donations to charities including £20 to Cancer Research, £30 to India Direct, £20 to my college’s hardship fund, £20 to Julian House, £10 to a workplace-based charity and £21.30 to Cats Protection. Subscriptions: Netflix £9.99 (my sister pays me £4 per month to use it), Audible £7.99, Spotify £7.99.
Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
For my undergraduate degree I took out a tuition fee loan and my parents gave me a termly allowance in lieu of a maintenance loan. During my MA I paid my tuition fee and my parents paid me a monthly allowance, which I supplemented through a mixture of tutoring, childminding and working in a shoe shop.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money?
We didn’t really talk about money much. My parents considered finances to be quite a private issue. The word they used was 'comfortable' but they were never flashy with money: my sister and I were state-educated and my parents drove ‘normal’ cars. Since becoming an adult, I’ve had more in-depth conversations with them about money and understand their finances more but I wouldn’t say I’ve ever had a formal financial education. There are a couple of rules I keep to, the key one being that I pay off my credit card in full each month and try only to put food or petrol on it. Beyond that, I think my attitude is more common sense than particularly informed.
If you have, when did you move out of your parents'/guardians' house?
After I started university, I was only living at home during the holidays and my parents actually moved when I was 22. I don’t have a designated bedroom in their new house so consider that as the point at which I formally moved out.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself? Does anyone else cover any aspects of your financial life?


What was your first job and why did you get it?
My very first jobs were babysitting and waitressing at the village pub. I think I started both when I was about 14 or 15 as a way of being slightly more independent and having some disposable income. I loved babysitting partly because I got to watch TV (we never had one at home so that was quite a draw).

Do you worry about money now?
I am very aware of my finances at the moment because I’m aware of how expensive the renovations I want to make to the cottage are going to be. Because my outgoings have suddenly changed due to moving, I’m still in a period of getting used to my new situation, which makes me a bit anxious. I think it’ll take a couple more months to settle into a rhythm.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? I received a significant sum of money (£60,000) from my grandmother when she passed away in 2015. I used that to buy my car, invest in my SIPP and the remainder to buy my flat and then my house on my own. Objectively it’s very lucky to have received such a generous sum but the death of a loved one is a very high price to pay.
If you’d like to submit your own money diary then please send a bit of information about you and your situation to We pay £100 for each published diary. Apologies but we’re not able to reply to every email.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series