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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019
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How I Spend My Money: An engineer in Kildare on €70,000 who is thinking about leaving the country

He pays nearly five times more in tax than his wife.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie that 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. Want to take part? Details on how to do it are at the bottom of the piece.

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.  

In the most recent entry, a scientist living in Galway walked us through his day-to-day life and how he spends his money. Today, an engineering manager disillusioned by how much tax he’s paying shares his money diary.

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Occupation: Engineering manager
Age: 46
Location: Kildare
Salary: €70,000 (plus 10% bonus based on targets)
Monthly pay (net): €3,900

Monthly expenses
Mortgage: €600 (€1,200 between two of us). We are currently €2,200 ahead in our mortgage payments.
Household bills: Electricity (€60), gas (€30), Sky (€70)
Transport: Diesel (€170), car insurance (€60), car loan (€200)
Phone bill: €60
Health insurance: €220 (two adults and three kids)
Groceries: €240 (my half of the bill)
Subscriptions: Netflix (€14.99), gym membership (€35)
Life and mortgage insurance: €70
Maintenance payment: €250 (plus half of all kids’ cost like clothes, doctors, school, Christmas, dentists, etc)
Savings: €400

I’m living in Kildare and married with three teenagers from a previous marriage. I live around the corner from my ex-wife, so I see the kids regularly and every other weekend they stay with me. 

A lot of unexpected costs for the kids come up. My ex-wife is quite reasonable and we both pay half of all the kids’ costs. There is generally never an argument. We don’t have childcare costs as they are all in their mid- to late-teens, but the costs still add up! The three kids over the year cost between €4,000 and €6,000.

I save €400 a month – my wife saves €250 – and we have savings of €12,000 between us. This is mainly for a rainy day or if we need to buy something unexpected. I think after the last recession I changed my attitude with regards to money. I almost lost my house and was lucky enough to rearrange my mortgage. I guess I’m overcompensating somewhat, but saving does give me a sense of security.

Myself and my wife both have cars and use them for work. We could get away with one car if we wanted, but the extra independence is worth it.

I earn twice what my wife does, but pay almost five times more tax, which is completely insane. I hope this will change over the next few years and everyone pays a fair and reasonable amount of tax. It’s unlikely, but I can always dream!

I would consider leaving the country in a few years when my kids are grown up. We could be so much better off, but I know we are lucky. We’re both healthy, working and able to pay our mortgage.

***

Monday

My first alarm usually goes off at 6:00am – I snooze it this morning. Another goes off at 6:10am and I hit snooze again. At 6:20am, I bite the bullet and get up. I get into my gym gear and make coffee for two. My wife is already up and wishing me a “good morning”. I’m not a morning person, but I say “good morning” back.

I feed the dog, put my prepared lunch into my bag and drive to the gym at 6:40am. It takes about 35 minutes to get to the gym, which is right beside my job. I work out until 8:30am, have a shower and get into work just before 9:00am.

I have quite a lot of responsibility in work. I’m generally responsible for company operations and most days are quite busy. The gym sets me up for the day and I would be lost without it. Either way, I feel so much better after a workout. I turned to the gym after hurting my knee doing a marathon and have never looked back.

I eat my pre-prepared breakfast of two boiled eggs, salmon and tomato, make a coffee and start my day. For lunch I have chicken and beans that I made the night before. I head out after lunch and grab a coffee (€2.50).

I leave work at 5:30pm and get home 50 minutes later as traffic is mental. I avoid the N7 at all costs and take the back roads, which are now becoming busier than ever. My wife is still in work, so I start to make dinner. Well, I put the potatoes on as we normally cook on Sunday for the first three days of the week. Tonight, we have mince in peppers, potatoes and veg.

We watch TV in the evening, with both of us still tired from a few drinks on Saturday. We go to bed at 9:00pm and fall asleep.

Today’s total: €2.50

Tuesday

My 6:00am alarm goes off and I hit snooze. It goes off again at 6:10am, I get up, put on my gear and head to the gym. I’m at the gym a bit earlier than usual, which I like as I can take my time and not rush. I feel more normal now and I’ve convinced myself I won’t drink until Christmas – we’ll see how that works out.

I listen to Newstalk most mornings in the car. Both presenters annoy me, and I often find I’m arguing with them – they just don’t know it. But I keep listening anyway.

I get into work about 8:50am. I eat my pre-prepared two boiled eggs, cheese and tomato breakfast and start my day. For lunch I eat chicken I pre-made and some leftover potatoes from last night’s dinner.

I finish up at 5:00pm, make it home by 5:50pm and start to prepare dinner. It’s mince in peppers again, but with salad instead. After dinner I work on some emails and make a few calls for work.

One of our production lines has broken down and I’m just about to go in, but our site engineer gets the line going. I watch TV for an hour or so, shower and head to bed at 9:00pm. I watch some more TV and fall asleep quickly.

Today’s total: €0

Wednesday

My alarm goes off at the usual time. I’m awake anyway, but I’m not in the gym today so I don’t get up until about 7:30am. My wife was gone at 6:30am. Her job is a five-minute drive away, but she works long hours. I make a coffee and head to work arriving in for 8:30am. Same breakfast of two boiled eggs, cheese and tomato. At that, it’s time to start my day.

For lunch, I eat pre-made chicken and I heat up some beans. I head out to get coffee as I don’t really like the coffee in work (€2.50).

I head home at 5:45pm and have dinner. My wife has haddock, baby potatoes and veg ready. I have arranged to go to the cinema with my two boys to see the Queen movie. They’re both teenagers and I think the fact they like music from 30 years ago is great.

Tickets are €48 and food is another €10. We got the popcorn free as my son knows the guy working there. I get home at 11:45pm and head straight to bed. I can’t sleep, so I watch Netflix for a bit.

Today’s total: €60.50

Thursday

The alarm goes off and I hit snooze. Alarm goes off again at 6:10am and 6:20am. I finally get up, make coffee and head to the gym. I finish up at 8:40am, have a shower and head into work.

Breakfast is two eggs again, but scrambled this time and with tea. As I’m writing this, I realise how boring my breakfast sounds, but I never really get tired of eating eggs. For lunch I have chicken and salad I made previously. I leave work at 5:00pm and get home for 6:00pm as traffic is crazy.

I start making a dinner of steak, baby potatoes and salad. After dinner, my wife starts to clean the house while I head around to see the kids and have a chat with my ex about Christmas. We normally rotate Christmas with the kids – which we decide to continue – and we chat about presents.

I normally look after the expensive presents and she looks after the clothes and smaller gifts. We chat about getting two of them iPhone 7s for Christmas. I’m not in agreement as I bought two refurbished iPhone 6s last Christmas for them and they’re still working fine. My iPhone is over two years old. So we decide to talk about it another time.

I get a home at 9:30pm and have some Special K cereal, which I think I’m becoming addicted to!

I head to bed and we chat through a new kitchen we’re planning next year. We have some great ideas, but realise it’s going to be more expensive than we first thought. I watch some Netflix and fall asleep.

Today’s total: €0

Friday

The alarm goes off and I’m feeling quite tired. My wife is up and gone to the gym already. I get up, put my gym gear on, feed the dog, make coffee and head to the gym. Friday traffic in the morning, for some reason, is always quite light and I get to the gym by 7:15am. I’m starting to feel more awake and have a decent enough workout.

I get a coffee in the local SuperValu (€2.50) and, even though I have breakfast with me, while I’m there I pick up brown bread with salmon on it for breakfast (€5.50). I get into work, have my two eggs, tomato and cheese plus the breakfast I just bought.

For lunch I have chicken and veg, which I had pre-made. I finish up work early today at 4:00pm and my wife invites me to dinner and pays. We head down to our local pub at 6:00pm, which has a small restaurant at the back. I have two pints with dinner and we head home at 9:00pm. We’re both tired and after watching some TV – two more beers – we head to bed.

Today’s total: €8

Saturday

I wake up at 7:00am, but I’ve no intention of getting up. I check Facebook, Twitter and answer some work emails and then make coffee for both of us.

It’s 8:00am and my wife is not impressed since I woke her up. We watch some TV and then make breakfast. After some more coffee, we get up and head to Lidl for our weekly shop. We usually get dinner for the week and lunches, which we make on Sunday for the first few days. It’s my turn this week to pay for the shopping (€120).

We head into town and then back home for lunch. My son drops around to have lunch with us as his sister is driving him crazy. He stays for a few hours and we talk about football and the upcoming U2 gig we are going to. The three of us watch a bit of TV for a while.

We make cod, potatoes and salad for dinner and I have a few beers at home watching TV. Some friends unexpectedly drop around so I head to the local Centra to pick up some more beer (€20). They leave at 11:30pm and we head to bed, watch some Netflix and fall asleep.

Today’s total: €140

Sunday

I wake up at 8:00am and make some coffee. I had five or six beers the night before and actually feel ok. My wife makes breakfast – porridge with raspberry – and we sit in bed eating and watching TV.

We get up about 11:00am, clean the front garden and clean both cars. It’s a nice day so we go for a 7 km walk and get an ice cream on the way (€5). We drop into Dealz on the way home and pick up a few items (€20). Seriously, I can’t leave Dealz without spending less than €20, even though everything is €1.49!

We have soup and bread for lunch and make our dinners and lunches for the next few days. We watch TV and have steak with mushroom sauce and baby potatoes for dinner and head to bed at 9:30pm. Then we both fall asleep quite quickly.

Today’s total: €25

Weekly subtotal: €236

What I’ve learned:

  • I realise my breakfast and lunches are not very exciting, but it’s what I like and I’m happy enough with it.

  • I think we watch too much TV and I have often wanted to get rid of the TV in the bedroom, but I’ve never really followed through on doing it.

  • I have a lot of work to do around the house that could be done in the evening, but usually I’m too tired. This is just a state of mind though, I really need to get over myself.

  • Even though I have a good job, I usually don’t have much money left before payday. So I tend not to spend a lot, nor do I go out much during the week. This week is unusual in that I would never be out twice in 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. 

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