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Dublin: 11°C Tuesday 9 August 2022

How I Spend My Money: A 23-year-old clerical officer on €23,000 who lives in Louth

This week, our reader details her spending in the week before Christmas and realised just how expensive that holiday is. reader

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? We’re looking for readers who will keep a money diary for a week. In particular, we’re looking for people who fall into one of these categories: 

- People who don’t usually track their spending and would consider themselves to be not great with money 
- Students
- People working for minimum wage 
- People aged over 65 

If you’re interested, please send a mail to 

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.  

Last time, a 29-year-old data analyst from Waterford detailed his spending in a week. This week, we hear from a 23-year-old clerical officer from Louth earning €23,352, having left a better-paid job she wasn’t happy in, in order to take up this role.


Last year I graduated from college with a degree in English and History. I worked in retail for 4 years while doing my degree. Earlier this year I left a well paid, but mind-numbingly boring job for a less well-paid job with the HSE. I love my job but just wish the pay was higher. However, I know that in the long run, the pay will increase.

I pay my car insurance and tax in one go in April. This generally comes from my personal savings and this year cost €1,300 and €200. Saving is something I’ve always been good at, but since I’ve taken out a car loan, and spent a good portion of my savings on it, I feel like I struggle to make it from one pay packet to another – I worry a lot about money. On expensive weeks my rainy day fund takes the hit as it is the only payment not set up as a standing order to my savings account. 

Occupation: Clerical Officer
Age: 23
Location: Louth
Salary: €23,352
Monthly pay (net): €1,578

Monthly expenses

Rent: €200
Transport (Petrol): €60
Phone bill: €5. I have a prepay phone and only spend €5 on data a month. I use wifi most of the time.
Health insurance: I don’t have health insurance. At the minute it’s just not something I can afford.
Groceries: €60 (I use the basics in my house and then buy whatever I specifically need).
Gym membership: €39
Subscriptions: Spotify Premium Student €5
Car loan: €210 
Savings:  €100 to a personal savings account, €200 to joint savings account with my boyfriend, €50 to rainy day fund. 

Total overheads: €929



7am I get up to get breakfast and walk to work.

7.45am I’m in and ready to start my day.

12 noon: I’m covering an area that isn’t mine and it’s very busy so I have lunch at my desk.

4pm I walk home from work. I get a cup of tea and visit my granny on my way to the gym.

7pm After the gym I’m treated to a takeaway as it’s my birthday (counterproductive I know).

10.30pm I relax for a bit before heading to bed.   

Today’s total: €0


7am Same as Monday; up, breakfast and walk to work. I love the walk to work but I have to admit it, it’s not as enjoyable on the dark mornings!

1pm Lunchtime. I have leftover lasagne that I made on Sunday. The hospital has a well-subsidised canteen but I prefer to bring my own and save the €10 or €15 that I’d end up spending in it.

4pm I finish work early today as I’m going to a concert tonight. One of the great benefits of my job is flexible working hours. I can start any time before 10, but I usually come in early to get home early.

4:30pm I get the bus to Dublin – this costs me €15 for a return ticket

5:30pm We go and get something to eat. My share costs €20. I bought the concert tickets last March so the money spent on them is a distant memory.

8pm I buy me and my brother a bottle of Coke each for €6.50 in total.

11pm We get the bus home and I’m home by 12:30am.   

Today’s total: €41.50


9.30am I have a bit of a lie-in as I’m off work today as I have a good few days holidays left to take.

10.30am I meet my friend for breakfast, €12

1pm I do some Christmas shopping. I buy a Chromecast as a family present (€39), a present for my boyfriend’s family (€13) and some storage boxes for my room (€5).

4pm I pick up some things for dinner (€4.50). I head home and make dinner.

7pm I’m really not feeling well today so I skip the gym and head to bed.  

Today’s total: €73.50


7am Up, breakfast and out to work.

8am It’s payday so I stop by the ATM on my way to work to withdraw the money for my essential planned expenses e.g. rent. I do this straight away every time I get paid so I don’t feel like I’m missing the money.

5pm I head to the gym. I haven’t gone as much as I usually do this week.

7pm I skip dinner as I’m still not feeling great and I do some late-night Christmas shopping with my boyfriend but don’t buy anything.  

Today’s total: €0


7am I’m up and in to work by 8:10. The dark mornings are getting depressing at this stage.

4.30pm I head home from work, and surprise, surprise it’s pitch black outside, again!

6pm I head out with my friends for our Christmas/my birthday night out. We have food first which costs me €12.50 including a bottle of beer.

2am I’m home and calculate that I’ve spent €20 on drinks over the evening. I enjoy going out but usually only have 3 or 4 drinks as I hate wasting my days off hungover and I see it as money down the drain. I don’t need a drink to have a good time anyway so it doesn’t really affect me.  

Today’s total: €32.50

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9.30am I’m up to get some breakfast and head down to the gym.

11am I get home and head downtown with my mam to finish some Christmas shopping. I spend €44 on gifts for my mam and sister. I spend the rest of the day chilling out.

7pm I make dinner with the food we have in the house and then head out with my sister and her friend.

3am I’m home and have spent €30 on drinks this evening. 

 Today’s total: €74


10am I get up and get breakfast. I head to my boyfriend’s house where we’ll watch the football before heading into town to hopefully finish our Christmas shopping.

4pm I pick up the last present for my dad €22 and some ingredients to make a spaghetti bolognese later (€6.40).

6pm I make dinner and we relax for the evening.

10pm Off to bed delighted that I only have a day and a half left at work before I’m off for Christmas!  

Today’s total: €28.40

Weekly subtotal: €249.90

What I’ve learned:  

  • This obviously wasn’t a typical week with getting Christmas presents and being out so much, but every week something different crops up so there is never a typical week! €160 is approx what I have in disposable income to spend each week when necessary expenses are taken out, so obviously, after this week, the rest of the weeks will have to be tighter.
  • I hope when I have my car loan paid off this time next year that I will have more disposable income. I am also due for an increment next March of approx €1,400, so I hope that will take some of the pressure off.
  • Once my car loan is paid off I would like to try to increase the amount I save but I think I would like a few weeks/months where I’m not under pressure.

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