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Money Diaries: A healthcare manager on €47K living in the west of the country

This week, our reader is busy at work and staying on top of finances, while catching up with family and friends.

TheJournal.ie reader

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on The Journal 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 manufacturing technician in Dublin, this week a manager in the west of the country juggles a busy work day with home life.

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I’m 24 years old and living in the West of Ireland. I save €1,000 a month – sometimes more, but it depends on the month. We were lucky to buy our house mortgage-free. It was hard to save whilst renting and we made a lot of sacrifices at the time we needed to save but now that has paid off, thankfully.

We continue to save but don’t put as much pressure on ourselves, but we also balance each other out. I’m definitely more of a saver but I think when you’ve travelled a lot, you gain a lot of life experience and become very good with money. I also didn’t grow up having a lot of money at times so you learn to appreciate opportunities and work hard.

I’m in my second year of studying for a Master’s degree and I’ve also upgraded my car using my savings, so they are quite low at the moment. After Christmas, I’ll work on building them back up again but for now, I want to enjoy this time of year and try not to stress too much.

We did take out a small loan to decorate the house and have decided to pay that back steadily rather than leaving ourselves without savings. I know it’s best not to have any loan, but it was the right decision for us at the time. It’s hard to figure out the best thing to do but I find setting a goal, keeping a diary and trying your best is all we can do. In time we will review it when we are ready, but for now, we are happy.

Occupation: Healthcare manager
Age: 24
Location: West of Ireland
Salary: €47K
Monthly pay (net): €2,700
Expenses: Approx. €300 per month 

Monthly expenses

Transport: €55 to €80 on fuel depending on how much I drive. My tax is €190, but I pay that annually and it’s not due until March. I also pay my insurance in full, €800 due in March also.
Rent: €0
Loan: €310
Household bills: Electricity – €45 every two months, bins – €30 a month (partner pays), WiFi/TV – €40 a month
Phone bill: €20 top-up prepay
Health insurance: €0
Groceries: €300 but we take turns, so around €150 per month
Subscriptions: Netflix – partner pays, Spotify Student – €5.99
Training: €50
Fire fuel: €40

***

Monday

8.00 am: I get up, let the dog out and then hop into the shower. After that, I put on a wash load, pack my lunch for later and bring some breakfast to the office with me. My partner is off today so he will walk the dog later this evening.

9.00 am: I get to the office. I don’t live far and always drive to work as I am community-based so will need my car for checking in with clients or running errands. I’m tired today after a busy weekend – it’s all go in our house.

9.30 am: Coffee made, I get stuck into my work. It’s a busy environment, more so since the pandemic, so it’s head down and straight to work. My colleague comes in with a question so we have a discussion around that and have a quick catch up about our weekends.

1.00 pm: I take a break and join the others for my lunch. I’ve a lot to get done today so I’m eager to get back to work as I’m working to a tight deadline today. I get calls from my teams and sort out the issues they are highlighting. This takes up some time, but I always think it’s very important to give the right amount of time to staff and to try and sort out issues early.

4.30 pm: I’m still working my way through my to-do list and at this stage, I’m calling around to sort some rosters out and make some changes to help out the team.

5.30 pm: I finish up slightly later than usual, but I’m happy I have completed the most important tasks.

5.45 pm: I get home and my partner has dinner sorted – pasta and chicken, which I gobble down before going to training.

6.00 pm: Training is tough, but I do group training with a competitive group and it pushes me on. It’s only a five minute drive away as well, so it’s ideal.

7.00 pm: I get home, shower, throw on my pjs and sit at the fire. My partner and I watch a movie together and have a cuppa before calling it a night. 

Today’s total: €0.00

Tuesday

7.00 am: Up slightly earlier today as my boyfriend’s working, so I take the dog for an early walk.

7.30 am: Get back, feed the dog and hop in the shower. I have my breakfast at home today before leaving for work. I stop for a coffee on the way to the office. (€3.20)

9.00 am: I arrive at the office. Things are more relaxed this morning. Have a chat with my colleagues about random topics.

10.00 am: Everyone starts to get busy around now and I need to get to the bank, so head there and then make my way to a client’s house. I haven’t seen them in a while so stay for a cup of tea and do some audits. I get supervisions done whilst there too and have a read of the logs. I notice some minor errors and complete incident reports on them. I end up spending half of the day there.

3.00 pm: I drive back to the office and make some calls. I need to catch up with some of the line managers today and see how all the clients are. Reports of a Covid outbreak come in and I spend the remainder of my day sorting PPE, emergency backup, infection control plans, risk assessments, Covid tests, staffing issues, public health information, etc.

6.30 pm: I finish work and turn my phone off. I get home and it’s just myself and the dog this evening. My family had checked the dog earlier so I know all is fine with her. I make a curry for dinner – I skipped lunch so I’m starving and nibble on a pancake whilst cooking. I eat, put on my pjs and relax for the rest of the evening.

Today’s total: €3.20

Wednesday

8.00 am: It’s midweek and I’m definitely feeling that slump. Struggle to get out of bed. Get ready for work quickly and pack some food. I prefer fresh food and like to have my own food with me. I’m not good at drinking water anymore and need to improve that. I have a refillable water bottle but spend more time steeping it than using it.

9.00 am: It’s another busy day at work, the pandemic has really affected everyone. I feel so much more socially awkward. I’ve always been an outgoing person, but the pandemic definitely has brought on much more anxiety. Anyways, I get on with it. I get a call to go help out some staff so head out the door and go meet them.

2.00 pm: Back in the office now and it’s time to have my lunch. I eat at the desk today and work away on the computer for the rest of the day.

5.00 pm: Before I realise it, it’s 5 o’clock and I head out the door. I don’t get paid overtime, but I can take it back in time owed, so it works out grand. My job is 9-to-5 but that’s not always the way it works. I work weekends or evenings/nights depending on the needs, but mostly during the week.

Today’s total: €0.00

Thursday

10.00 am: I’m working with a client today, so I’m there all day until 5 pm.

6.00 pm: I have a quick bite to eat once I get home and head to training afterwards.

7.00 pm: My boyfriend and I go for a hot chocolate afterwards and drink it in the car. He buys it and also gets us some treats. It’s nice to catch up and we love to go for a spin and listen to the radio.

8.30 pm: Once we get home, we chill out but it’s cold, so we put a fire on and go on our phones for a while. My boyfriend goes to walk the dog quickly and I shower.

12.00 am: We head to bed later than usual tonight.

Today’s total: €0.00

Friday

8.00 am: I’m awake and delighted it’s the weekend. Get up and do the usual morning routine before heading to the office at 9 am.

11.00 am: Fridays are the busiest days at work and are so unpredictable lately. I’m chasing my tail all day with an issue but eventually, get it sorted. I get through my emails and calls and follow up on some issues. I’ve dozens of staff on my team and need to make sure all of their files are ready for the end of year. I have front line managers who also do that but everyone is working together. I’m so thankful for a great team and for good management above me too, it makes life easier for everyone. I pick up some treats for the office today. (€9.80)

6.00 pm: It’s Friday evening and I’m off out for a pint. The two of us head to the local and meet two friends there. There’s live music so we have fun. We always get food after nights out, the best part of the night really. (€35.20)

1.00 am: We get home and head straight to bed after we eat and lights out.

Today’s total: €45.00

Saturday

10.00 am: I sleep in until 10 today. My boyfriend had a long week and sleeps on for an hour after I get up. I clean the house and sort out some breakfast for us both. I make a grill up as we don’t get the chance to sit and have breakfast together often. We eat and clean up after, and the dog makes short work of the leftovers. My boyfriend helps with a few things around the house too so we can get finished early.

12.30 pm: We get showered and dressed and decide to sort out a few errands. We go into town but it’s quite busy in the shops, so we decide to just leave it. We grab a coffee in a lovely local bakery and also pick up a treat for ourselves. (€10 with a tip)

1.00 pm: We walk around the town enjoying the atmosphere and catching up. We decide to take it easy today. I text my friend to see if they want to go for some food later. They agree, so I call the restaurant and make a booking for 7 o’clock.

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3.00 pm: We get home and bring the dog to the beach for a runaround. She loves getting off the lead and chasing a ball. We are lucky to have quiet beaches just over the road. It’s freezing out, the weather is definitely starting to get cold.

4.00 pm: We get home with the dog and my boyfriend puts a fire on. I grab us a cup of tea and some light food to get us by until later and we relax watching TV.

6.45 pm: We meet our friends at the restaurant. We catch up on the usual and order our food with two beers. We chat throughout the night and discuss holidays or getting away but decide against it with the way restrictions are going. We book a weekend getaway in Northern Ireland for three weeks time for the four of us and it’s a pay-on-arrival hotel with free cancellation until the day before so everyone is happy. This doesn’t cost us anything tonight. We have a few more pints and chat. There’s a good atmosphere and we meet a few people we hadn’t seen in years so it has been great.

9.00 pm: Dinner comes to €125 and we split it into two between ourselves and our friends. I pay for our half and we head home. (€62.50

Today’s total: €72.50

Sunday

8.45 am: Lazy Sunday is on the cards. I get up around 9 and put the fire on. We plan to pretty much just stay home today. I sort out the washing and have a look in the presses to see if we need anything from the shops. Our shopping usually lasts us just over a week but we need a few bits now. I make a list and stick it to the fridge. My boyfriend gets up and suggests a carvery. We have a think about it but haven’t decided yet.

10.00 am: We put Netflix on and relax on the couch beside the fire. I call my mum to catch up with her and she invites us over for dinner. We would see family a few times a week but everyone has been busy with work this week.

2.00 pm: We get to our family house. Dinner smells amazing. We picked up some treats for dessert in the shop on the way. My boyfriend buys them. We spend the remainder of the day at home with family. We brought the dog with us and walk her after dinner. We bring her on a long walk today and she loves it.

6.30 pm: We go home and get things ready for work the next day. I spend some time on my phone talking to friends. We stay home for the evening and don’t do much at all. It’s nice to have not done much for the weekend. We usually always have plans or go somewhere for a day or for the weekend. Some of our friends live in different parts of the country so we go stay with them sometimes or other weekends one of us or both of us could be working. I’ll need to do the shopping tomorrow evening.

11.00 pm: Late in the evening I realise I need to pay my a registration fee linked to work so go online and sort that. €100 euro.

Today’s total: €100.00

Weekly subtotal: €220.70

***

What I learned –

  • I pay all of my bills at the beginning of the month and don’t need to worry about them again after that. I’m in a very fortunate position in life and that is down to hard work and the amazing people that I’m surrounded by. I have learned to live in the moment more since I have stopped working shift work and progressed within my career. At the moment I am very happy and try to help as many other people as I can as lots of people have helped me to achieve what I have and it feels good to pass that on. I don’t really buy ‘things’ as such but every now and again I’ll take notions for something I want and may buy something then but generally speaking there’s not a lot that I buy.
  • Each week varies on how much money I spend. We definitely wouldn’t get the opportunity to go out two nights in the same week normally but my boyfriend only gets one full weekend off a month so we definitely try to make the best we can with that. Paying my work registration fee is a once-off annual fee.
  • I shouldn’t complain about anything given the year everyone has had but I do miss travelling and the experience you get from that. I love learning about new cultures and meeting people from different backgrounds so hope that all resumes soon. Since lockdown started we are converting a van and can hopefully gain new experiences and meet people in Ireland though that when the weather starts to pick up again.
  • Reading this is encouraging me to try to save with the intention of clearing the loan as that’s probably the biggest expense we have at the moment. Most of the work we needed to do in the house we did ourselves. We didn’t go all out with expense, I don’t think I would ever do that. We haven’t always been in this position and there have also been months in the past two years which were a struggle or felt tighter than others but as things level out it gets easier.
  • The best wisdom anyone has ever shared with me in life is to live within your means and to save the amount of any pay rise you get.

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