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Dublin: 17 °C Saturday 21 September, 2019

How I Spend My Money: A marketing manager in Dublin on €40,000 who is moving home in the new year

He and his partner aim to save €2,000 a month next year for a house deposit.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on that runs on Wednesdays and Sundays 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. 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.  

At the weekend, an engineer in Kildare on €70,000 wrote about everything from kids’ costs to his desire to leave the country. This time out, a marketing manager in Dublin talks about his daily spending and plans to move home next year. 


Occupation: Marketing manager
Age: 28
Location: Dublin
Salary: €40,000
Monthly pay (net): €2,514 (after €98 going towards ‘bike to work’ scheme)

Monthly expenses
Rent: €850
Household bills: Included in rent (jammy!)
Transport: €200
Phone bill: €60
Health insurance: Paid by my employers
Groceries: €80
Gym membership: €30
Subscriptions: €28 (current affairs magazine, Netflix)
Donations: Concern (€10) 
Savings: €1,000 

My girlfriend and I have recently decided to save for our first home. We rent together in Dublin and pay €1,700 between us, but we’re moving back to my mum’s house at the end of our lease in early 2019. We’ll pay her roughly €100 each per month when we do move in with her, so €200 a month in total.

So we’ll cover some rent and general costs, but moving back will put us in a position to save a lot more than we would if we kept renting! I save about €1,000 per month now, but I’m hoping to up it to about €1,200 per month if I get my salary increased to €42,000 later this year. Our aim is to save about €2,000 per month between us – more if possible, of course.



I get up early at 5:50am and head to the gym. I’m always too lazy to go after work and it’s a nice start to the day. I start with a smoothie made from porridge oats, milk, banana and protein powder.

Everything except the protein (which costs me about €5 a month) is bought in Lidl during our weekly shop, which is normally €40 between us each week. The fruit I used this morning would have cost about €1.45 all in. Lunch is a ham and lettuce sandwich on Hovis Granary bread, also from Lidl.

I start work at 8:00am and finish at 4:30pm, so I get hungry at weird times. My employers provide free fruit – so snacks are healthy and free – which is a plus! Dinner is homemade pizza on pre-made pizza bases. That roughly cost us €7.50 in the weekly shop.

I’m into bed by 10:00pm for a bit of reading before it’s time for lights out.

Today’s total: €0


Slightly earlier start at 5:30am this morning so I can have a longer session in the gym. I’m newish to it – I jog one day and weight lift the other.

Breakfast is the same bunch of bland coloured things blended into a purely functional beverage. After the gym, I skip home full of energy and head to work on my bike that I’m gradually paying for via the ‘bike to work’ scheme. I’m still paying €98 per month, and it’ll be done by June next year.

Lunch today is a ham and Swiss cheese roll – ingredients cost me about €5. I’m hungry basically all day after the morning’s exertion.

Dinner is a Lidl recipe we came across on for sticky rice with veg and a fried egg. It’s super cheap and makes you wish you’d made enough for seconds. The bits and pieces for that meal would come to about €4 in our weekly shop, which is ideal.

I listen to an hour and a half of our favourite podcasts in the evening – a bit of The End of the World and Serial season three – before hitting the bed. I also listen to Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness because he’s a bit wild/eccentric, but a total genius. 

Today’s total: €0


I’m up at 7:00am. No gym today. I’m taking the morning off to prevent burnout. I have breakfast in work, so it costs nothing. Lunch today is the same as last night’s dinner – I made an extra portion specifically for this.

We go grocery shopping after work (great craic!). It comes to €44 today (so €22 each). We try to do it on Tuesdays, but we also try to use up everything in the fridge before refilling it. So occasionally we have to go on a Monday or a Wednesday.

Say what you like, but the weekends are not made for grocery shopping – no thank you! Groceries usually cost us about €40 per week, but we had to replace some cleaning products, so it was a little higher this time.

Dinner was homemade pizzas again because we weren’t feeling very creative after a day of work and shopping.

Today’s total: €22


Up at 6:30am, so straight to work. I had the usual €1.45 breakfast – purely out of convenience – and brought a packed lunch with me.

The packed lunches are probably the main way I save money every day. Buying a lunch every day would really rack up the costs. Overall, I spend about €8 per week on lunch, whereas you could easily spend that much each day in some places in town. So it’s quite a difference in the long run!

We have pasta for dinner, with a tomato and veg-laden sauce. My other half is a vegetarian so I rarely have meat for dinner unless I make something specifically for myself. And it’s the main reason our weekly shop is so cheap.

Today’s total: €0


Quick run on the treadmill at 6:00am before work and I have the usual breakfast. I’ve got a packed lunch again to save a few quid.

I get the Dart back to my mum’s house after work and had to throw €20 onto my Leap card. I bought us an Indian for dinner, which came to €27. Then I headed out for drinks with a few friends and spent about €25. It really feels like a lot when you list it out like this!

Today’s total: €72


I let myself have a hard-earned lie on until 11:00am this morning! Then it’s toast for breakfast – Sean’s Bread from SuperValu kindly bought by my mum.

I was having dinner on my own, so I bought a Cully & Sully cottage pie for €5. I threw in a couple of beers and some wine for the evening on top of it. All in all, it came to €30. Originally myself and my girlfriend planned to go to the pub, but we changed our minds at the last minute. That’s why we could justify buying the slightly more expensive wine and beer.

Today’s total: €30


Another lie-on this morning – this time until 12:30pm. We’ve got hazy heads after the night before.

Homemade scrambled eggs on brown bread for brunch – with buckets of tea – are on the menu. Again, these breakfast bits are courtesy of the mother, so no cost there.

We headed back to Dublin in the late afternoon and had a Boojum for dinner, which set us back about €16 (so €8 each). I booked cinema tickets (€20) for tomorrow in Dundrum using their €10 Monday deal.

Today’s total: €28

Weekly subtotal: €152

What I’ve learned:

  • Having kept a spending diary, I’m way more aware of how quickly little things add up. Some weeks, treating myself to a takeaway coffee and a packaged sandwich can cost about €10 per week, which could rack up to €520 per year or more if you aren’t careful. Add that to all the other little bits – like the occasional pack of gum or Fulfil bar – and it can become a lot very quickly!
  • Equally, I’m now more conscious of the cost of drinking. As in, it’s more than just the drinks – it’s also the food you might eat when you’re out or even if you’re eating in, the possible taxi home if you’re feeling lazy and so on. So four pints becomes a lot more than €20, but you wouldn’t really consider it unless you were looking out for it.
  • Luckily when I move home I’ll be able to save a lot more thanks to the reduced rent, but I’ll also have other things to consider such as the monthly Dart ticket. I’ll definitely start a fresh spending diary then to make sure I stay on track.
  • Based on this diary, I’m more aware of the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’ in terms of spending. I’ve become much better at saying “no” to nights out because I know how much they’ll affect my saving target.
  • Additionally, my savings target is much more realistic now that I know where my money is going, and I see where I can eke some more out.
  • I’m going to continue to monitor my spending – but without living like a hermit – in order to reach my saving goals. If I can save extra one month, I will. I know now how easy it is to overspend, and saving a little extra during quieter months will offset that. 

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 

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