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Money Diaries: A project manager in the north west on €43k who is used to working remotely

This week, our reader and her fiancé are busy renovating their home as they prepare for the birth of their first child. They are used to remote working.

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WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie that runs weekly and looks at what people in Ireland really do with their cash.

We’re asking readers to keep a record of how much they earn, how much they save if anything, and what they spend their money on over the course of one week.

Each money diary is submitted by readers just like you. When reading and commenting, bear in mind that their situation will not be relatable for everyone, it is simply an account of a week in their shoes.

If you’d like to document your spending, or lack thereof and any lifestyle changes during this Covid-19 period, we’d love to hear from you. Send an email to money@thejournal.ie and we’ll be in touch.

Last week, we met an accountant on €50,000 working from home during the lockdown in County Clare with his wife and young child. This week, also working remotely, but not just because of Covid-19, we meet a project manager in the north west.

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I work as a project manager for an online learning software company in Dublin, but I work from home in the north-west. Luckily for me, the company has a very flexible remote working policy so even before the lockdown I was able to reap the benefits of country living while working for a Dublin company.

Normally, I use spare office space in a family member’s office building in our local town centre but since lockdown, I’ve been sharing the dining room with my fiancé, who works semi-remotely for a Dublin company as well. Both of us regularly have work calls but we make it work. So much so that we actually got engaged mid-lockdown, and pregnant!

Up to now, I would have put €500/month into medium-term savings in the credit union, but since finding out I’m pregnant we decided we need to fast-forward the renovation work on the house as the bathroom is definitely not fit for a family of three. So for the last couple of months, I’ve diverted that €500 to buying tiles, bathroom materials, paying tradesmen, etc. The aim is to have the bathroom done before the end of the summer. I own the house, so I pay for all the work that I do to it. My partner pays me each month to contribute to the mortgage & bills though.

My usual hobbies have all been cancelled due to Covid-19 (yoga, pilates, weekend walks/hikes, going out) so since lockdown, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking, cleaning, work that needed to be done in the house, walking the dog within my 2km radius (and then 5km when that was allowed). 
Occupation: Project Manager
Age: 30
Location: Donegal
Salary: €43k
Monthly pay (net): €2765; I also get €360 from my partner to contribute to bills and mortgage.

Monthly expenses

Transport: €20 on petrol. Since lockdown I haven’t had to use my car for anything except getting the messages. 
Mortgage: €439
Household bills: Between €300 – €400 depending on the season, my household bills calculation covers: electricity, internet and tv, coal and logs when applicable, €150 standing order to the oil company so that we have enough credit on our account whenever we need to fill the tank, bins (I buy labels as I need them but we usually put the recycling and normal waste bin out once or twice a month each), also I include my home insurance, mortgage protection and property tax in this.
Phone bill: Between €30 and €40
Health insurance: Don’t have it…should I?
Groceries: This has gone way up since lockdown, between €300 – €400, and that’s even after we’ve split it!
Subscriptions: €7 for Microsoft Office, and I recently signed up to Audible which will start charging me €7.99 starting next month
Savings: €500 that I usually put into the credit union but I´m diverting it to home improvements these days
Loans: CU Home Improvement loan €135, AIB personal loan (for more home improvements) €95
Revolut: I have a load of vaults in my Revolut account for short-term savings for things like Christmas, presents for people (for Birthdays etc.), car insurance, weddings etc. so this month I put around 500 into the different vaults. Left myself with hardly anything to live off for the month so I will likely have to dip into some of these near the end of the month.
Gym: Usually this is €40 but it’s been frozen since March due to Covid-19.



7.30 am: Get up and walk 4.5km with the dog while listening to an audiobook. I never do this, but I decided to start today. Listening to the book “Me and White Supremecy” to try and learn about racism given the current climate. I shower and make breakfast of tea and toast when I get home. 

9.00 am: Start work at my dining table shortly after 9 am. Since the lockdown eased, my fiancé and I have decided to take turns using the office downtown, so he’s there this week. Leaving me to work in peace.

12.45 pm: As I’m at home and instead of actually eating lunch at lunchtime I take a nap – another perk of working from home while pregnant. I’ve been snacking all day anyway so I’m not hungry.

2.30 pm: Have a light lunch of salad (locally grown) and a veggie burger. It doesn’t fill me so I have two kiwis and a mango as well. I definitely wouldn’t snack as much if I was working in my office. Actually, that’s a lie, I’d end up eating a load of biscuits.

3.15 pm: I was surprised to hear that my chiropractor was back open so I went to see if I should get an adjustment to make sure my body is in good shape for this pregnancy. I often have joint/back/neck issues. I get examined and need an adjustment. This costs €50.00. First time spending any money on an appointment or treatment in around three months!

6.00 pm: I finish up work for the day, put on the spuds and while they’re cooking I hoover the entire couch. Dog hair everywhere. I also hoover and mop the floors. This all takes around an hour. Then I finish the dinner of locally grown spuds, veg, tempeh and salad. It was delicious. The veg all came from a local veg farmer, I spent €20.00 on a veg box from them last Friday and topped it up with strawberries and other bits so I ended up spending €36.00 on veg. The fiancé thinks this is madness, but I’d rather spend €36 on veg than on shite.

9:00 pm: I sit down for the night and relax. These days I am wrecked and be in bed by 10:30 pm at the latest.

                              Today’s total: €50.00


7.00 am: I get up and walk the dog again while listening to the next chapter of the audiobook. The goal here is to get the dog to do a poo and tire her out so that she doesn’t wreck my head while I’m working. I also take €200.00 out of the atm while on my walk. We owe a builder €1160 from work we had done before Christmas. He only recently told us how much we owed him last week, so I had to clear all my Revolut vaults back to €0, as well as put a chunk of this month’s wages towards it.

8.00 am: I start work early today because I want to do an online pilates class at 10.15 am. Working from home has been much better than I expected. Most of our clients are American and due to the Covid-19 crisis clients have been less demanding. This means we have more time to get things done and a much less stressful day. Also, it means I’m not having to do any overtime (which is unpaid). If I need to do any cleaning or make something to eat, I can usually find a few minutes here and there where I can get up from the computer and not come back to a million emails, so it’s been good.

9.00 am: I have a smoothie and rice crispies for breakfast.

10.15-11.15 am: My pilates instructor is doing live online zoom classes for free since lockdown. I just started them today, again because I need to be keeping on top of my exercises for this pregnancy. It’s amazing that she does them for free though – what a legend!

12.00 pm: Both my mum and aunty call into me before lunch, separately. We’ve only started letting people into the house this week before they would have just stood in the garden and chatted through the window.

5:00 pm: The builder calls over to collect his money. Feels good to get it paid but I’m left skint to the back teeth now for the rest of the month. I would have preferred if he had told me at the time of the work how much I owed him so I could have saved up to pay him back.

5.30 pm: I finish work and throw together a curry with what we have in the fridge and the press. We get a full week of dinners from our weekly shop that we do on Fridays or Saturdays. We tend not to have to go to the shop midweek, unless for snacks or if we run out of milk.

6:30 pm: I hit the couch and don’t move for the evening. So tired. Except for my mum and dad land over to say hello and look at our new tiles around 8 pm.

                                   Today’s total: €200.00

(This was used to pay the builder. The rest of the money I had gathered up last month from all of my Revolut vaults.)


7.15 am: Got up, listened to the audiobook while walking the dog.

8:15 am: Get home and realise I forgot my keys and am locked out. Himself is at the gym so I decide to walk down there and get a lift home with him.

8.25 am: Halfway down to the gym and he texts me telling me he left the back door open for me as he realised I had forgotten my keys. I walk back home.

8.30 am: Get home and find out that neither back door is open. I huff on the step for 20 minutes until he comes home.

09.00 am: I curse the Irish weather and make porridge for breakfast (in June like?!) and eat while starting work.

09.50 am: Another antenatal appointment with the doctor, these are free though.

6.00 pm: Work was really busy so only finishing up now but I don’t mind working late the odd time from home (not that this is that late) but it’s handy to just take the laptop to the couch and finish off a few bits and pieces, instead of being stuck in a dark office down the town working late.

7.00 pm: Make a very healthy dinner with more goods from the local veg box. 

8.00 pm: Feel so good about myself for getting such a variety of nutrients from my dinner that I decide I deserve a bold snack, so I get a box of sugary cereal from the shop. I have little sense in that decision. The cereal and milk set me back €5.60.

9.30 pm: I just noticed €40.00 came out of my account for a charity thing I signed up to last month. I definitely can’t afford it but it’s going towards planting trees so I’ll just make sacrifices elsewhere. Trees are a necessity right now.

                                   Today’s total: €45.60


7:00 am: Up for the usual dog walk and audiobook listen.

8:00 am: Start work thinking I´m doing my pilates at 10.15 but later realise the class is Friday morning, so I started work an hour early for no reason. I have cereal with tea while I work for breakfast.

1:00 pm: Break for lunch. It’s Thursday so our food supply is running low, so I just snack on some sweet potato bread I made last weekend. I have some yoghurt with stewed rhubarb as well. 

2:00 pm: I order this week’s veg box online for €20.00. I’ll collect it on Saturday morning from the farmer’s market. 

5:30 pm: Finish work and make dinner with food leftover from last week’s shop. Butternut squash, spinach and quinoa. 

7:00 pm: Having a very tired day so I do nothing for the evening except clean up after dinner and rest.

                      Today’s total: €20.00


7:00 am: Up and get the dog walked again.

8:00 am: Start work and eat breakfast while I work. I try to get through the box of cereal that I bought the last day and have some tea with it. If I was having a healthy breakfast, I wouldn’t have had tea because it’s believed that it hinders iron absorption, which is something I was told by my GP to watch during pregnancy.

10:15 am: Take a break from work to do my pilates class.

11:15 am: Back to work and have a really busy day. 

1:00 pm: Have a very quick lunch today. The fiancé brought home giant potato wedges from our favourite café in town (they only reopened for takeaway). They’re so big they do me for lunch.

5:30 pm: Finish a very busy day of work and am absolutely wrecked. I go for a nap because I know I’ll be out late tonight.

7:30 pm: Get up out of bed and get ready for a small socially distanced get-together to celebrate a friend’s engagement.

8:30 pm: We stop off in Tesco on the way and I buy them a card and a bunch of flowers, nothing special so it only sets me back €8.25. Thankfully I can’t drink at the moment so I drive and don’t drink, saving a small sum.

1:00 am: Home and bed – the latest I´ve been out since the start of the lockdown and my getting pregnant.

                   Today’s total: €8.25

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9:00 am: We have no curtains so it’s hard to have a lie in. They’re on the priority list but need a bathroom more so that’s where my money is going these days. I go collect my veg box and get some other bits in Tesco coming to €19.95.

10:30 am: Get home after doing my messages and feel like I need another nap! I’m wrecked after last night and I go to bed for a few hours. Himself does the big shop in Lidl but pays for it because I did the big shop last weekend.

1:00 pm: I get up because there are a few different workmen coming to look at different bits that need to be done in the house. A man who does blinds came as I just wanted to get an idea of cost and what was available.

3.30 pm: I make homemade coleslaw and make a sandwich with sourdough bread that my mum got for us. A friend calls in for a chat for half an hour.

5:00 pm: We have our very first viewing of a wedding venue. It’s only 20 minutes away and it’s so pretty and rustic. He drives so no transport costs. 

6:00 pm: Head to the beach afterwards and get an ice-pop on the way but he buys it because I conveniently forgot my purse.

9:00 pm: Stop in Tesco to get some bits for dinner because we’re craving “after beach” food (burgers/hot dogs), I get some veggie sausages and baps in an attempt to create a “healthy” hotdog. Again, he gets this.

11:00 pm: Can’t keep my eyes open for the end of the film we were watching so I hit the hay.

                   Today’s total: €19.95


9:00 am: Get up, do some housework and have a smoothie for my first breakfast.

11:00 am: Sit outside in the sun while I enjoy my second breakfast of rooibos tea and sourdough toast with apricot jam.

1:00 pm: Head to the beach again. Get a lift with a friend. Get a coffee when down there for €3.50.

7:00 pm: Home and eat dinner based on the salads I made yesterday with the veggie sausages and the sourdough bread. 

                          Today’s total: €3.50

                             Weekly subtotal: €347.30

What I learned –

  • Putting so much into my Revolut vaults at the start of the month, as well as paying a chunk of the builder’s bill took its toll on my ability to have a normal spending month. 

  • I think I’m quite good with making our weekly shop last and not spending money on food during the week.

  • I think I may be living beyond my means – I don’t think it’s normal to have such a small amount of money left over after paying out my bills and expenses, and savings. But at least I get my bills paid at the start of the month instead of spending all my money and leaving myself stuck and in debt.

  • It’s strange, I’m not spending money on the things I would have before lockdown (drink, going out, exercise classes) but I don’t seem to have any extra money. I am spending a lot more on weekly shops and home improvements though I suppose.

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