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Money Diaries: A project manager on €67K living in Wexford in a house she and partner just bought

This week, our reader is busy working from home while renovating a new house with her partner.

TheJournal.ie reader

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie that looks at how people in Ireland really handle their finances.

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

Are you a spender, a saver or a splurger? We’re looking for readers who will keep a money diary for a week. If you’re interested send a mail to money@thejournal.ie. We would love to hear from you.

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, so let’s be kind.

Last time around, we heard from a warehouse worker on €22K in Dublin. This week, a project manager in Wicklow earning €67K.

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I’m currently living in Wicklow. Myself and my partner bought a house last September after eight years of being together and each living at home for seven of those in order to save money for a house deposit. It’s an older house so it needs a lot of work, we’re in the middle of doing it up, so I’m not able to save as much as I could in previous years and every spare penny seems to be going to the house.

All of the bills and house expenses are paid from the joint account, myself and my partner both contributing to that account depending on our wages, as I earn more I add more to the joint each month. Then we have our personal accounts for our own spending.

Prior to the house, shopping was my main vice, but now since buying there seems to
be a new bill every month. We managed to save a bit from the start of the year to put towards renovations.

I’ve been working from home since March 2019, first working in a spare room in my parents and then once we bought the house we’ve converted one of the spare bedrooms to an office. We got a pandemic puppy last year so a lot of my spare time is spent taking her own walks and playing with her, as working from home I know she can get bored when I’m on back to back meetings.

Occupation: Project Manager
Age: 27
Location: Wicklow
Salary: €67,000
Monthly pay (net): €3,509

Monthly expenses

Transport: Petrol around €100 a month now as we’ve one car now, but pre-Covid during commuting it would have been €300. Everything else done annually.
Mortgage: €1050
Car loan: €377
Pension: €333
Broadband: €59
Electricity: €60 approx
Home insurance and mortgage protection: €25 and €21.84
Pet insurance: €25

Phone bill: €55
Health insurance: paid through work
Groceries: €250 approx
Subscriptions: €8 Disney Plus / €15 Spotify Duo account
UCD Foundation: €25
DFS sofa: €66.50
Car loan,pension, phone bill and UCD are paid out of my personal account.

***

Monday

8.00 am: I have a recurring Monday meeting which starts at 8.30 so I’m up for eight, let the dog out the back and sort her breakfast out before making myself a cup of tea and starting the work day. I check emails and some teams messages before starting the call.

1.00 pm: It’s my first break of back to back meetings, my partner is off this week however, as he has to take his annual leave pro-rata of the calendar year so he’s brought me a cup of tea in between calls. I make my lunch, just a simple caesar salad and go back to my desk. I tend to use the time I eat to respond to emails and listen to a podcast while I do it.

4.00 pm: I’ve no calls for the rest of the day and I’ve just been working on some strategy work when my partner comes up to chat with me. We’ve been looking at getting some decorative stone as we’re currently doing up the garden with the money we got from cancelling a sun holiday due to Covid, so he suggests we go and have a look at a local garden centre given the weather is nice. My work is quite flexible so I turn my notifications on my phone in case I’m needed and we go. We take the dog with us as the stones are all kept outside so we can bring her around and then we go to the beach afterwards to walk her.

6.00 pm: When we return home, I go to my parents’ house as I started clearing out my old bedroom there over the weekend and want to get it finished. There’s still a lot of stuff they have in storage for me given that storage availability is low in our new house. Right now I’m putting away some of my heavier winter coats, hopeful that the nice weather is here to stay. On my way, I pick up a Red Bull in a local newsagent. (€2.60)

7.30 pm: I’m home from Mum and Dad’s and it’s straight into PJs to wind down. Neither of us is overly hungry so we use up what’s left in the freezer and have a small ‘fakeaway’ crispy chicken with some egg fried rice. We watch some Netflix and I scroll through social media. My aunt has shared in the family group chat that she and my cousin will be doing their charity walk in my mum’s name next weekend after it’s been postponed due to Covid. I donated on the original date but I donate again towards Cancer Research. It’s in pounds so the conversion works out at €31.50.

9.00 pm: I head to bed for an early night and do some meditation using my Calm app before nodding off.

                             Today’s total: €34.10

Tuesday

7.30 am: It’s an eight am call to start the day this time as I have colleagues who work in Asia and I need to connect with them before they’re done for the day. I give the dog her breakfast and then it’s calls until 11.30.

11.30 am: I have a block of time before my next meeting and it’s quiet in the house as my partner has taken the dog out to his home. She’s a pandemic puppy so we’re trying to get her used to other dogs. I grab a cup of tea and a chocolate rice cake before lunch.

12:30 pm: Lunchtime, a salad at my desk again. I tend to skip breakfast and prefer an earlier lunch instead.

3:30 pm: I have my first hair appointment in six months so I leave home and head to the local shopping centre. Been really looking forward to getting my fringe back and I feel like a new person when I’m walking out of the hairdressers. It’s been really nice to start doing ‘normal’ things again and having things to look forward to, even if they are quite simple. I stay online at the hairdressers and answers mails and chat via my phone. My hair cut costs €55.00 including a €5 tip.

5:00 pm: When I’m home it’s straight back on a late call, I don’t normally have calls this late, maybe once every two weeks, but sometimes it’s a necessity to align with team members. It’s a hectic call and my partner brings me up dinner, spag bol, to keep me going through it.

7:00 pm: As we’ve had dinner early we head out to the back garden and do some tidying up. My partner ordered some of the stone we saw yesterday (€104.00 from the joint account) so we need to make sure we’re ready for it to be delivered. He’s done a great job working on the garden during the day, he also ordered some decorative stone for the boundary (€75.00) between the grass and patio so I help fix the flowers now that’s been put down.

8.00 pm: We take the dog on a short walk around the block and then it’s home to relax. We’ve started a new series on Netflix but don’t want to power through it! It’s my sister’s birthday next week so I buy her a new pair of workout leggings I know she’s been eyeing up from Calvin Klein for €48.00.

                          Today’s total: €282.00

Wednesday

08:00 am: It’s an 8 am start as I have an urgent meeting with a stakeholder to align before a big presentation in the early afternoon. I let the dog outside and leave the door open so she can wander in and out of the back garden. She likes to sit outside and when I’m upstairs on calls it can be hard to know if she needs to go out.

12.00 pm: I’ve been on calls until now so I pop downstairs to make my salad for lunch. I chat to my partner for a bit as we’re hoping to book a staycation somewhere to go away for my birthday at the end of July but everywhere is super expensive given that the whole country is doing the same. We don’t know if the money is better off being spent in the house, but we haven’t been away since November 2019 and could use a break soon.

3:00 pm: I have a Specsavers appointment so I head to the local shopping centre. My eyes have been quite sore at the end of the week lately. I know this is probably due to the fact that I’m on my laptop for eight hours a day but I want to make sure it’s nothing else. The optician recommends a light prescription for while I’m working on the computer. I want to come back with someone to pick out the frames as I need some advice. Between the fringe and the mask, there’s not that much space left! While I’m in the shopping centre I get an iced tea from Starbucks €4.10 and then head home.

4:00 pm: I have no more calls today and my partner’s Dad is up helping with the back garden, we can’t let the dog out to ‘help’ them as the gate is open so I take her to the local beach. It’s a three-minute drive and she much prefers to be off lead and to run about. It’s good for me too to go and get some exercise and be away from the screens.

5.00 pm: I check in on some mails and messages which came through while I was out and read through my meetings for tomorrow and seeing what’s left on my to-do list.

6.30 pm: I finish up my work and make a chicken stir fry for dinner, as we’ve some veg to use up. We watch a bit of Netflix while we eat.

8.30 pm: My partner is playing online with friends, and I retire to bed with a book, an eye mask and puppy cuddles.

                            Today’s total: €4.10

Thursday

8.00 am: Get up and have a super quick shower as I’m starting work at 8.30 today. My partner is up and takes the dog out for a stretch.

11.00 am: I have a gap in my day so I go check in with how my partner is getting on in the garden. The stones arrived while I was on calls this morning and he’s managed to put most of it into place thanks to the work done yesterday. It’s really starting to come together which is great to see. While I have my gap I make some lunch and bring it back up with me.

4.00 pm: I’ve no more calls for the afternoon so I catch up on some articles I had bookmarked on LinkedIn. My partner comes up and asks if I want to take the dog out with him, so we go to the local duck pond.

6.30 pm: We get home and make turkey burgers and homemade wedges for dinner.

8.00 pm: We watch some Netflix and I do some online scrolling. I see Asos has 20% off right now so I have a look through my Asos saved items and order a fleece I’ve been looking at €35.00. I’ve been trying not to buy as many clothes since Covid as really, where am I going? But when we go to the beach in the evening it does get chilly. We fancy something sweet and I nab the last magnum, leaving my partner with some mint-chocolate ice cream.

                          Today’s total: €35.00

Friday

8.30 am: Up later today as my first meeting isn’t until 9.30. I turn on the radio on the Google dot and have a cup of tea before reading and responding to some emails.

12.30 pm: I make some lunch and respond to some emails. I’m on a half-day today so I’m really trying to get some bits done before I finish up.

2.00 pm: My partner comes upstairs and asks if we should go do the food shop as we’ve a few bits to get for the weekend. We go to Aldi and do a shop mainly of fruit and veg, but there are also some solar lights in the middle aisle so we pick some of these up too as we’ve been looking for some of them for the garden, €55.00 in total. We also run to Dunnes as we’re out of tequila and we love a margarita, it’s on special for €27.50.We go to Specsavers and I try on some lenses while my partner gives me a thumbs up or down through the window as there are restrictions on how many people can be in the store. I pick lenses that I like with some advice, this is my first time getting glasses and I’m surprised by how expensive they are, €256.00 for two pairs including an anti-glare spray for both pairs. I’ll be able to claim some of it back through my health insurance with work.

4.00 pm: We’re home from shopping, and my partners playing a new video game he bought recently. So I log back into work to try and get a head start on my to-do list for next week. Sometimes it’s easier to get some work done while no one else is around.

5.30 pm: I finish up and check with my partner what he fancies for dinner. We bought some chicken and wraps so we make enchiladas. My partner was paid today so after dinner, we go through the joint account and check our balance, the pet and house insurance both came out today (€25.00 and €21.94). We’re doing okay and so decide to pay off the balance of the sun holiday we have booked for September €645.00. It’s full money back if we need to cancel but we’re hopeful with the current progression of the vaccine rollout that we’ll be able to go.

7.00 pm: The weather forecast for the weekend finally looks nice so we bought our garden furniture out. We bought it with the refund we got from the holiday but it’s been sitting in our living room for the last month. We bring it out and set up the cushions on it. My partner puts the solar lights up and we string some fairy lights around the shed and fencing. We celebrate the fact that the garden is finally coming along and open a bottle of prosecco. We spend the evening listening to music and having a few drinks outside.

                            Today’s total: €1030.5 (€256 personal)

Saturday

9.00 am: While I’d love a sleep in, the puppy has other ideas. I get up and let her out the back garden. The sun is warm already so I have a cup of tea outside.

10.30 am: I meet a friend from work and we grab drinks to have outside Starbucks (€4.25). It’s lovely to catch up with her face to face. We have a sniff of some candles in TK Maxx. I’m on the hunt for some coasters for the new outside table but can’t find any I like.

12.00pm: When I come home it’s an empty house, my partner has taken the dog out to meet his own friend for coffee. I grab a cup of tea and make a sandwich and head outside into the sun. I start a new book and am reading when my partner comes in.

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3.00 pm: I’m having some friends over tonight for some outside drinks as they’ve both had their first vaccination. I forgot a few bits yesterday so I want to pick up some coal and wood for the fire pit we’ve had put into the garden €11.00, it’s our first time lighting it so I’m excited.

4.00 pm: I’m home and it’s time to clean. We usually do a full clean on a Friday evening but we were setting up outside instead yesterday. So we run around for a while and I get some nibbles ready for this evening.

5.30 pm: I make myself some dinner, creamy cajun pasta, my partner ate while he was out earlier and isn’t feeling up to dinner so it’s a meal for one. After dinner I shower and get dressed, it’s nice to get dressed up again even if it’s just at home!

8.00 pm: My friends arrive and the Rosé is poured.

                          Today’s total: €15.25

Sunday

8.00 am: I’m up early again with the dog as our house alarm went off for some reason. I let her out and then grab a cup of tea for myself and my partner and bring it back to bed. I read a few chapters of my book and the dog snoozes at the bottom of the bed. We chat about our plans for summer and the latest government announcement, and what we’re looking forward to the most. Me= eating at a restaurant, him = going to the pub.

11.00 am: We get ourselves and the dog ready to go as we’re meeting some of my partner’s friends from his work for a puppy play date with their two dogs. The day is beautiful again and it’s clear everyone has the same idea because the beach is absolutely packed and there are cars completely blocking some parts of the road. I get it, some people haven’t been able to get to the beach in over six months so I can’t blame them for the enthusiasm but it must be annoying for those who actually live right here. We’re local to the beach so we know where we can get a spot to park. We climb the dunes and get to the beach and meet his friends, there is literally no one else on this half of the beach.

1.00 pm: We’re back from the beach and I have some leftover pasta from yesterday for my lunch. It’s a beautiful day and we make some lemonade and bring it outside. I start a new book and we chat on and off for a while, enjoying the nice weather together.

4.30 pm: My mum and sister come over to see the back garden as they haven’t seen it since it’s been done up. We have tea and chat for a while.

6.30 pm: We’re both peckish but neither of us fancy cooking so we think about a takeaway option. We settle on an Eddie Rockets as we both fancy a burger. We place the order via the app €34.00 and go together to pick it up. Everyone seems to have the same idea and there’s a queue for pick up but it moves quickly though and we bring it home and eat it outside.

8.30 pm: There’s a bit of a chill outside now so we go inside. My partner goes for a shower and catches up with a friend he hasn’t spoken to in awhile online. I pour myself a glass of wine and put a movie on Netflix.

                           Today’s total: €34.00

Weekly subtotal: €1434.95

***
What I learned –

  • I think this isn’t really reflective of a typical week as we paid off the holiday and I got the new glasses, our week to week would never normally be that high.
  • After keeping the money diary for a week I’m actually surprised that my online shopping isn’t as bad as it has been. Now with the house, there are other things to spend on. I’m happy with this though, we’re really happy we managed to buy the house as it seemed a faraway dream for along time and we made a lot of sacrifices. It’s a long process though and we need to make sure we’re not overstretching ourselves and still have time to enjoy ourselves.
  • We only drink at the Weekends, we find that it’s a way to make it feel like a break in the week when we’re not going anywhere. It also helps us to cap spending.
  • We spend so much more money on food now compared to pre-Covid but I’m sure this balances out as we’re not eating out and we’re here for every single meal, we do like to enjoy a takeaway once a week. I’m conscious this spend on food out will definitely creep over the coming months with things opening up.
  • People may prefer to take a proper break away from the desk for lunch but this suits me as it leaves me open to take the dog out, or go to appointments in the early afternoons.
  • I mention that we were watching Netflix, we spilt the viewing subscriptions across the family so we can all use them without doubling of payments.
  • We’re hoping to get the kitchen done early next year, goodbye 80’s kitchen tiles, so we really need to start saving to make this happen.

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