Name: Bethan Jones
Occupation: Owner and director of Cwtch Camping and holiday operations manager at Gupton Farm
This year has seen some big life-changers for me. I bought my first house, a two-bedroom terrace in Pembroke, at the start of January, and then a few weeks later I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I’m due in two months, and now that I have a mortgage and soon a baby to care for, there’s going to have to be a real shift in my finances. I’m going to have to be more creative with the money I do have.
I run a glamping business with three cabins in Pembrokeshire. I didn’t set out to run a glamping site. When my dad semi-retired from farming about 10 years ago, he sold the farmhouse where we had grown up, all of the agricultural buildings and all of the good farming land, and kept 10 acres of land which he had received grant funding from the Woodland Trust to plant up as woodland and maintain.
I thought “wouldn’t it be cool to have a cabin in the woods” – to use as an art studio, and for family and friends to share. A local carpenter built the little cabin, which we named Cwtch, meaning “snug” in Welsh. Soon after, a cottage booking website approached us to see if we would like to be featured on the site. This was back in 2010.
Now we have three cabins in the woods. We are open from April to September, and it includes everything you need for a comfortable stay: comfy beds with fresh cotton bedding, a campfire with a stocked log store and hot showers, and then you have the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park to explore. To be honest, though, bookings have fallen in the past couple of years. There used to be really high demand, but the market is more saturated now.
I earn £15,000 a year through the business, and with that I also pay a couple of local workers – a gardener and a cleaner – to help me.
I used to run an events business that turned over £150,000 a year, but it was a huge amount of stress. When a job came up with the National Trust to work full-time as a property manager for a campsite and holiday cottage, earning a salary of £25,000, I decided to quit the events business. However, I probably still work a 60-hour week.
I used to follow a pattern of working my socks off for eight months, then taking time out in the winter to go travelling. My most recent winter trip was to Morocco, where I completed my yoga teacher training qualification.
I don’t go mad with money. Before I was pregnant, I’d attend a lot of yoga classes and always go to the gym, but though I’ve still got membership, which is about £20 for a local council one, I’ve slowed down on the classes.
I’m both fortunate and unfortunate in a way as I inherited money from my grandmother, which was enough to put down a deposit on my house. However, it does feel a bit stressful at the moment because I bought it on my own. My partner, who I met in October, already owned a house – he’s carrying out a big renovation project, so we’re pretty skint.
My mortgage is £320 a month, and bills come to about £200. I might spend about £100 a week on food, and I have a little van which costs about £100 a month to run.
I try to save more during the summer but I’m not particularly successful. Saying that, I do have a pension with the National Trust, and I put in £200 a month, but that’s only been for the past two years.
I’ve definitely given up the foreign holidays and yoga classes – the focus is getting food on the table and paying the bills. When I was single I had no responsibility. There was no mortgage and I could just jet off anywhere. I’ve been quite fortunate with money until now as I’ve earned a good income and I’ve been able to do anything I wanted to do. Now I need to give a lot more thought to how I spend my money.