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Money Diaries: A 21-year-old freelancer with various jobs keeping her going during the lockdown

This week, our reader is grateful she has various incomes for freelancing as it means she’s not reliant on just one job in a crisis.

TheJournal.ie reader

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 heard from a 25-year-old customer support technician in Galway. This week, a 21-year-old food scientist who also does various jobs, including travel writing and cleaning. She’s finding that she’s doing well in the shutdown because she doesn’t rely on one income stream.

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I am a recent graduate living in Dublin. Since my first term of university, I have been money-savvy. I have juggled several jobs while studying, from cleaning homes to working in night club cloakrooms.

I am currently freelance writing for a tech company. This role is keeping me going through the shutdown. I also do food and nutrition copywriting. I am currently on furlough until 2021 from one of my contracted jobs within the tourism industry.

I am incredibly grateful to be in the position I am now where I am able to save the majority of my income with the hopes of getting on the Dublin property ladder. Ever since the beginning of the crisis I have been staying at home, having the odd ‘no spend days’ once in a while.

I have managed to rack up a decent amount in savings (€30,000) throughout my four-year degree and have recently started delving into short- and long-term investments.

Occupation: I have several part-time contracts as a freelancer
Age: 21
Location: Dublin
Salary: It really varies depending on my freelancing work
Monthly pay (net): My rent was part of my work contract but as I’m on furlough I will be moving house again shortly.

Monthly expenses

Transport: €0 (my work covers this)
Rent: €0 (live-in position because of the nature of my role in tourism)
Household bills: €0
Phone bill: €10
Health insurance: €0 (on a family plan), which will soon come to an end and I will have to fund this.
Groceries: €0 (work pays for this) but I would budget around €60 for when I want to personally try new recipes etc
Subscriptions: €2.50 (Spotify family plan), €0.99 (iCloud storage)

Monday 1 June

7:30 am: I wake up with a pep in my step, the sun is out and I’m not working today as it’s a bank holiday. The plan is to go on a nature walk as I’m trying to see more of Ireland and appreciate staycations. Glad this can still be done within the allowed Covid-19 limits.

9:30 am: I finally get up out of bed after spending about two hours aimlessly scrolling on my phone. I used to be very good with not looking at it first thing in the morning but when you don’t really have a set routine I give in and say ‘Ah, why not’. I also go to sleep quite early and most of my messages flood in after 11 pm so I’m usually responding to them in the morning.

12:30 pm: I am getting a bit too lazy to go on a full-blown hike so my friend and I just end up walking to the beach and sitting on a rock and chatting away. I get the DART back home and make myself a toastie using my housemate’s leftover Emmental cheese and frozen brown bread, the perfect soul food.

3:30 pm: I spend most of the afternoon at the Black Lives Matter protest in Dublin, which is superb, my first march and certainly not my last.

6:30 pm: A few mates come back to sit in my garden after the protest and we order takeaway. I don’t end up paying for my meal as I had some Deliveroo credit from a time there was a mixup with my order (which was only the week before). I also use my friend’s Deliveroo+ so we didn’t pay for delivery (which is soon expiring, however, this is probably a blessing in disguise).

10:00 pm: After my pals leave, I clean up a bit, hop in the shower and am on my laptop catching up on some YouTube and social media in general. I watch a video about a business owner who said that it’s very important to switch up your routine every now and again to yield different results. I reluctantly set my alarm for 4:30 am to catch the sunrise the next day (it’s always been a goal of mine).

                            Today’s total: €0.00

Tuesday 2 June

4:30 am: The alarm goes off and for the first time in forever I don’t feel tired. I am feeling motivated to tackle a few short-term goals. I’ve made a Summer 2020 Bucket list with small goals and by waking up that bit earlier will help make me feel more productive. I end up cycling for about five minutes and I find a lovely bench where I park my bike and sit down.

5:30 am: When I get back home I’m not feeling tired at all so I force myself to get in at least an hour or two of sleep so I won’t be a zombie for the day, which is counterproductive if you ask me.

9:30 am: I wake up at about 10 and again I’m glued to the phone. I finally decide to hop out of bed and make some Weetabix and avocado toast.

12:30 pm: I buckle down and work from home for the day.

8:30 pm: I unwind for the night, watch some Netflix and chat to the boyfriend then fall asleep at around 11:30 pm.

                     Today’s total: €0.00

Wednesday 3 June

9:30 am: I sleep in today and wake up to my boyfriend ringing me. I end up staying on the phone until after 10 am then make some breakfast. I pop into Tesco for a weekly grocery top-up and spend €21 (which is typical for a weekly shop but sometimes I can spend upwards of €50) but it doesn’t cost as I have a gift voucher. I also buy some cookware which costs €23.50 however, I am hoping to be reimbursed by my work. 

11:30 am: I start working from home and then a few hours in my boyfriend surprises me outside the house and we chill for a little bit. While browsing through Amazon I  stumble upon a waffle maker and decide to purchase it at €39.83. This wasn’t quite an impulse buy as I have been wanting to experiment with new breakfast foods. 

4:45 pm: I continue to work from home until the evening.

8:30 pm: I was experimenting with a new recipe and decide to bring it over to my boyfriend’s place and end up staying the night. We watch the ‘Becoming’ documentary on Netflix and I must say it was a good pick. 

                   Today’s total: €39.83


9:30 am: I wake up this morning feeling a little relief as I am not working until the evening so I slept in. I have some yoghurt and banana for breakfast and then go out with my boyfriend to run a few errands.

11:30 am: We end up at an Aerosoft tech shop and he buys some equipment. While he is humming and hawing I pop into the local café and get myself a coffee which comes to about €3.20 (a bit steep, however, since lockdown I haven’t had a decent coffee in ages).

12.30 pm: We end up stopping by Lidl to pick up a few bits such as salad and chicken strips for lunch and my boyfriend covers it. I then decide to buy some Wall decal stickers for €6.41 on Aliexpress as I plan to change up my bedroom. 

5:30 pm: After about a 45-minute bus journey I arrive home just barely in time for work and finish up after two hours (hurray). I then decide to make some blueberry and banana bread which turns out much better than anticipated.

8:30 pm: I spend most of the evening just looking up ideas to spruce up my room as I will be moving soon. 

                         Today’s total: €9.61


8:30 pm: I wake up and then start getting ready for work. I have Weetabix for breakfast and bring some hot water up to my work from home station. I then begin to browse online for more interior design ideas and stumble upon Mixtiles (It’s essentially a wall canvas that you can print directly from your phone and is made with a special adhesive that allows you to re-stick on multiple times). It costs a tenner each so I buy 4 at €40 with free delivery. 

10:30 pm: My friend comes over to work from home so we chat briefly at a distance and I finish up my first shift of the day at around midday.

12:30 pm: I decide to go to the beach with a blanket to do some reading, however about 10 minutes after, it starts to lash. I meet an American couple who I start chatting to for about two hours, at a distance. I walk them over to the nearest shop and then we part ways. 

2:30 pm: This is quite the golden hour for me. I begin trading and make a return on one of my shares worth just over €2k (before tax). Happy days!

4:30 pm: Two of my mates came over to the garden and have pizza with some wine and ice-cream. I reluctantly start my second shift for the day about an hour in. My boyfriend drops off a weighing scales that I bought last week for €8. We strategise future investments (he introduced me to trading).

8:30 pm: I finish up work and pop into the living room to catch up with my friends. They leave about an hour later and I clean up a bit, shower and hop into bed. My boyfriend calls around later.

                Today’s total: €40.00

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9:00 am: I slept really well the night before (most likely due to the fact that I had somewhat of a busy day yesterday).

9.30 am: I say goodbye to the fella and start working.

1:30 pm: I end up finishing work about half an hour early and have some lunch. It starts to lash outside and I am feeling very lazy, however, I decide to go over to my cousins to sit in their garden. I was supposed to pick up a bottle of wine but the queue in the shops are out the door and looping around the back and I am running late. I end up paying for my boyfriend’s diesel which amounts to €23.47.

11.30 pm: Hop in the shower and hit the scratcher.

                        Today’s total: €23.47


10:30 am: I leave my boyfriend’s house and get the bus into the city as I am due to clean an apartment for just under three hours. I take all the necessary precautions and wear the correct gloves and mask for this work to protect myself and others.

3:30 pm: The apartment that I’m cleaning today is in bits and I regret picking up the shift. The clients have had a 21st party there and had decided to rearrange the furniture and hang décor on the ceilings with sellotape. I end up doing an hour and half overtime just to get the place looking half decent. I’m glad to get out of there as obviously with people holding a 21st in the middle of a pandemic lockdown, it’s not the ideal environment for me to be working in.

4:00 pm: I finally get home and decide to take out the bins and my friends came over to go for a little cycle. The spare bike’s tyres end up being too flat and the pump not working so we end up going for a walk.

8:00 pm: I stop over in Aldi and pick up a few baking and salad bits for the week which amount to €12.47 (I love the discounted retailers, so I do).

10:00 pm: Hop into bed and plan out the busy week ahead

                 Today’s total: €12.47

                               Weekly subtotal: €125.38

What I learned –

  • After keeping the money diary for a week it really opened my eyes to where my priorities are. I am fully aware that my financial story is different to your bog-standard 21-year-old. I really have come a long way as I remember only having one source of income while working in retail part-time. 

  • In case you were wondering I have no desire to apply for graduate jobs in the next year as I enjoy my flexible working hours and being an independent contractor. I also have an amazing part-time job that covers all of my necessary expenses. 

  • Another thing that probably stood out was my cleaning gig and why I’d continue to do that even though I don’t necessarily need to. Truth be told, I started doing it nearly two years ago and it was my only source of income at the time. I’ve worked my way up and can easily make €50 for a few hours’ work that I enjoy.
  • My greatest tip that I learned from the age of 17 is to start building multiple streams of income. The pandemic was a blessing in disguise for my finances as I missed out on a lot of contract work with a few companies whereas on the other hand tech companies were thriving so I had that work to rely on which tripled my income since.

About the author:

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