Money Diary: A Londoner On 20k Who Escaped To Cornwall

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 an online marketing assistant who until three months ago lived in London but has recently moved to Cornwall. This was mainly for lifestyle reasons: she loves the sea and has always dreamt of living close to the beach. She wasn't really into living in London and found it too busy, too noisy and too expensive. Her salary in Cornwall is £5,000 less than what it was in London but she finds living here much more affordable, and it feels much more 'her'.

Industry: Fashion
Age: 28
Location: Cornwall
Salary: £20,000
Paycheque amount per month: £1,363.83
Number of housemates: 0 (#Introvertgoals)

Monthly Expenses

Housing costs: £650 rent
Loan payments: My student loan is deducted from my gross pay – £16
Utilities: Water £31, Council tax £95, Gas & Electric £52.50, Internet £22.95, TV Licence £25
Transportation: £0 – I cycle or walk.
Phone bill: £20
Savings? I aim to put £200 a month into a Help To Buy ISA but I'm trying not to beat myself up about it if it turns out to be slightly less occasionally. I built up a pretty good deposit while I was still in London (not good enough for London, of course!), so now I'm just topping it up until the time is right.
Other? I'm a member of a paddleboarding club. I paid £210 for the season, which runs from April to October. It saves on a gym membership, has been great for meeting people, and is my new obsession.

Day One

6.50am: Wake up early because my family have been staying with me for a long weekend for my birthday. They head out early because they have a long drive back to London, and I make coffee and have cereal for breakfast. Feel a bit sad at saying goodbye, and experience a dose of post-holiday blues at the same time because I've had a couple of days off. Blah.

8.30am: Leave for work. I get on my bike and my front tyre feels suspiciously squashy all of a sudden. It's fine to get to work on, and it might be nothing, but I'll have to keep an eye on it this week, and it does not help my mood. Pump it up and hope for the best.

1pm: Nip out at lunch to check my tyre and it's holding up fine. I already have a couple of spare inner tubes just in case, but I do need brake pads because I replaced my old ones over the weekend. Order some more while I sit at my desk and eat the salad I brought in from home. £2.37

5.30pm: My work runs a free yoga class every week so I get changed for that. Realise the top I brought is more see-through than I expected, but it's too late to worry about it now. Head into the class and pray my stomach doesn't make any weird noises during the quiet bit at the end.

6.30pm: Cycle home after yoga. I'd vaguely planned to have a quick swim in the sea before dinner but I can see the storm clouds coming in so decide it's probably a bad idea.

8pm: Dinner is a chicken breast I already had that I marinate. I bake it and have it with baby carrots and broccoli, which I also already had. I tend to buy frozen chicken because I end up freezing it anyway and it's much cheaper if the supermarket does it for me. I also buy a lot of frozen veg because it saves waste.

10.30pm: Prep overnight oats with frozen berries to have for breakfast in the morning, and make a salad to take for lunch. After finally sitting down and chilling out, prepping food is the last thing I want to do, but it only takes 15 minutes and I know I'll be grateful I did it tomorrow. It would be much less painful if I didn't leave it so late in the day, but I get comfy, which is always a bad idea.

Total: £2.37
Day Two

7.20am: Get up after snoozing my alarm twice (I have a rule that I can only hit snooze once on work days and I break it all the time) and have my overnight oats and a coffee that I make in my coffee machine. It has a timer, so there's always a caffeine hit waiting for me when I'm up and dressed. I love it.

8.30am: Head to work. My rogue tyre is still up and I make it to the office just before the heavens open. Winning.

11am: We have a visit from the cake lady. She does the rounds of local offices selling cakes and sandwiches a couple of times a week. I have no cash and don't want to end up in the black book of shame, so I resist.

1pm: I've been watching it rain sideways all morning, so I bite the bullet and invest in a properly good raincoat. I've been meaning to do it for ages because when it rains in Cornwall it rains, but I've been putting it off because I don't often buy clothes. However, I have some birthday money and I buy from my company so I get a hefty discount. I chuck in a T-shirt and a couple of scarves while I'm ordering because if I'm in for a penny I might as well be in for a pound. Then I eat my salad and feel glad that I don't have to go out in the downpour. £79.35

4pm: My colleagues surprise me with tea and belated birthday cake (I was away for the actual day). It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

5.30pm: I leave work and cycle to the paddleboard club.

5.55pm: Realise I forgot to bring my water bottle, so sod's law means I immediately feel thirsty. Buy water from the beach café, which hurts because I'm a reusable bottle kinda girl, but I don't have time to nip home. £1.20

6pm: Do a SUP & Run session. It consists of running intervals on the beach followed by paddling intervals on the water. It is hard, but it's free because it's part of my club membership. I push my bike home afterwards, because I only live five minutes away but it's up a really steep hill and my legs are about to fall off.

8pm: Once I've showered I chuck together a tuna pasta bake using some cupboard bits. While I'm waiting for it to cook I make tomorrow's salad so for once in my life I don't have to do it when I'm ready for bed. I eat 1/3 of the pasta so there'll be leftovers for a couple of days.

10.30pm: My muscles are crying and there's nothing on TV so I go to bed early. Listen to My Dad Wrote a Porno and laugh to myself in the dark before I go to sleep.

Total: £80.55
Day Three

7.10am: Get up, make toast using the end of a loaf I bought while my family were staying, and drink the coffee that is waiting for me thanks to my magical machine.

8.30am: Leave the house. My tyre is soft again so I pump it up and accept that I definitely need to fix it. Suddenly realise with horror that I don't know where my helmet is. The last time I remember seeing it was at the paddleboarding club last night. I'm not going without because I don't have a death wish, so I have to lock my bike back up and walk in, and now I'm going to be late.

11am: The cake lady swings by the office again but I'm chatting to a colleague about something important and complicated and it's probably not OK to break off because I quite fancy a cookie. My resistance is decided for me today.

1.30pm: Lunchtime. I eat my salad from home at my desk while I read things on the internet. I know I should go outside but I only have half an hour, and sometimes I just like to use the time to catch up on the news. And/or scroll through Twitter. Usually the latter.

5.30pm: Walk from the office to Trago, an amazing southwest shop that sells everything. I need a torch because I'm going for a walk tomorrow with paddleboarding people, and it might get dark before we're done. I also buy a bigger bike pump than my current one, a bucket, some soap, and a big tupperware and cake tin because a colleague is going on maternity leave next week and I volunteered to bake. I feel epic spending guilt even though these are all perfectly reasonable purchases. The torch (the only reason I really had to go to the shop in the first place) turns out to be damaged, so that'll have to go back at the weekend, and I'll have to improvise on the walk tomorrow after all. £16.60

7pm: Change my tyre. It's the first time I've done it all on my own and I feel very accomplished. I do it in my designated parking space and meet a couple of neighbours I haven't come across yet, which is an added bonus.

8pm: I'd planned on making a sourdough pizza for dinner, but when I open my sourdough starter it's developed some kind of weird pink mouldy layer on the top. I'm so gutted! At least I still have pasta bake from yesterday. I eat that and think about how it's not pizza.

9pm: Watch New Girl with the end of a bottle of wine that was starting to turn to vinegar in my fridge.

10.30pm: Make a salad for lunch tomorrow and set up my coffee machine. I've left it to the last minute again and I just want to go to bed.

Total: £16.60
Day Four

7.10am: Get up, resist the call of the second snooze, and have a breakfast that consists of timer coffee and muesli with banana and greek yoghurt.

8.15am: Leave the house early because I have to walk again. My bike helmet has turned up at the paddleboard club, where I must have left it in my post-workout fuzz the other day, but I'll have to pick it up tonight.

11am: Cake lady pops her head in the door, but I stay strong.

1pm: Eat my from-home salad al desko while I look at the news. And by 'news' I mean memes.

5.30pm: Leave work, walk home, and polish off the last of the pasta bake in double-quick time.

6.45pm: Meet at the paddleboard club. We were originally going to paddle down a nearby river to a great pub, but it's too windy. Despite the weather, a few of us still meet up. We walk a couple of miles to the pub we would have paddled to. The walk is beautiful and reminds me yet again of why I love living here. I have a pint and we set the world to rights before heading back along the same route. £3.60

10.30pm: I have a cheeky scone and clotted cream before I go to bed, because I had all the components in the house. I put jam on first, then cream, because I'm not an animal and I don't want to be chucked out of Cornwall.

Total: £3.60
Day Five

9am: Eat muesli with banana and yoghurt, and make a coffee so I won't be tempted by the siren call of Caffè Nero when I head into town.

10am: Walk into town. Return the broken torch I bought the other day, so that's £3.99 back. Pick up a package from the Post Office, which is a pair of sandals (a birthday present from my parents). I am currently wearing wellies out of necessity. Head to Tesco and buy cake ingredients for work, and a couple of bits to make a chilli later. Also go to a really nice gift shop and buy a scented candle which I've been stopping by to sniff pretty much every weekend for a month. I also go to the library and take out a few books. Then, when I can't stand the crowds or the spending guilt anymore, I go home. £34.07

12.30pm: Make a sort-of ploughman's for lunch out of bits that I have in the fridge/cupboard.

2pm: I wrestle myself into my wetsuit and head to the beach. I take a paddleboard out for an hour and a half. It's raining, but I've never paddled in the rain and it's really good fun. After about half an hour I get this really zen feeling that I have sometimes while paddling, where it's just me and the paddle, and the occasional seal, and it's totally quiet and lovely. I have another "I can't believe I really live here" moment. It’s free, because it’s included in my club membership.

6pm: Make a chilli using the ingredients I bought earlier, some sell-by mince from the freezer (I always pounce on sell-bys I can freeze), and store cupboard bits. I'll need to stock up again when I get paid next week. I tend to do a big shop of staples every payday and then pick up a few fresh bits like yoghurt and salad ingredients once a week. I'll do that tomorrow. Mainly because I already put my PJs on.

8pm: I was supposed to be going snorkelling this evening but it's been rained off. Luckily, The Hobbit is on TV so suddenly I have something else to do. I light my new candle, listen to the rain and wonder if this is what hygge feels like until it's time to go to bed.

Total: £34.07
Day Six

9.30am: Wake up and decide that since I have a lot of chores to get done today I should have a big breakfast before I start so that I don't have to stop for lunch. I mix up some chocolate oatmeal pancake batter, which I promptly destroy when I try to cook it (the pan was way too hot). I know that pancakes are not my strong suit, but I still try to make them every once in a while. I end up having muesli, yoghurt and banana again after opening all of the windows to let out the smoke.

4.30pm: After a day of cleaning and Skyping home, I head out. I walk the long way to Tesco because the sun is out (!!), so I meander along the cliffs and look at the water, which is a gorgeous shade of turquoise that I don't think people would expect in Britain. When I get to the shop I buy salad ingredients for next week's lunches, as well as washing powder, yoghurt and cereal that I'll probably mainly eat as a nighttime snack. I also get icing sugar and margarine because I forgot to buy icing ingredients yesterday when I bought cake ingredients. £9.82

6pm: Bake my colleague's cake to take to work next week. I'll ice it in a couple of days but I didn't want to risk making it at the last minute in case I decided I knew better than the recipe and started showing off. While the cake is baking I make tomorrow's lunch and I'm super-excited that I didn't leave it 'til later.

9pm: Sunday-night ritual of pouring a glass of wine (store cupboard essential again) and watching Poldark followed by The Handmaid's Tale. I yell at both TV shows like a football fan yells at the screen during a match. My neighbours must love me.

Total: £9.82
Day Seven

7.20am: Get up, get dressed, and have a banana and a couple of nectarines for breakfast, along with my usual coffee. Suddenly remember it's payday!

8.15am: I have a crazy busy week in store so head to the office a little bit early to get a jump on it. I'm cycling again, because I have my helmet back.

10am: Our club activities for paddleboarding have been published for this week, so I sign up for a few trips and workshops. I’m excited – hopefully the wind will chill out for a while so that some of it can actually happen.

1.30pm: I eat my salad between meetings and take a moment to catch up on who's done what stupid thing in the news. No cake lady today, so there was never any temptation on that front.

5.30pm: Cycle home and get changed. I'm out for dinner tonight, so I decide to be efficient and make my lunch for tomorrow before I leave, so that I can bask in smugness (and/or go straight to bed) when I get home later.

7pm: Go for dinner with people from my normal Monday night tap dance class as an end of term send-off. I have sausage and mash and sticky toffee pudding, because these are natural choices in the middle of summer. I also have half a carafe of wine, which I did not know was a thing but basically seems to be a bottle but for less money. Plus, I have a black coffee. It was decaf, which wasn’t what I wanted, but since I don't have it until 10.30pm I think the restaurant probably saved me from myself. £31

11pm: Walk home from the restaurant, crying on the inside about the fact that I still have to sort my recycling and put the bins out. Then I head to bed.

Total: £31
The Breakdown

Food/Drink: £76.69
Entertainment: £0
Clothes/Beauty: £79.35
Travel: £2.37
Other: £16.60

Total: £178.01