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How I Spend My Money: A 33-year-old corporate solicitor on €112,000 with a young family, living in Dublin

This week, our reader details her spending while juggling work and a young family.

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.

Want to take part? We’d like to hear from you. Just email money@thejournal.ie and we’ll be in touch.

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 week, we heard from a 30-year-old who had just returned from travelling and was on the dole and living at home in Cork.

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I am a 33-year-old corporate solicitor, born and raised in Dublin. I am married with one child (20 months) and my spouse is self-employed.

After 2 years of consistent saving for our deposit, we bought our house in South Dublin in late 2018. Since buying the house and having a baby, our saving habits have become a bit more ad hoc but we want to start getting into it again as we have some home improvements in mind.

At the moment, I tend to put away whatever is left in our joint account at the end of the month (usually between €500-700) into a savings account.

Myself and my spouse are both paid into our personal accounts but we each put €2,500 into our joint account every month for all household expenses such as the mortgage, petrol, groceries, bills, etc. The income figures are my own salary and I’ve given the full amount of some of those expenses here rather than my “share” but it is coming from our joint account.   

Occupation: Corporate Solicitor
Age: 33
Location: Dublin
Salary: €112,000 plus bonus (15%)
Child Benefit:  €140 a month
Monthly pay (net): €5227
Mortgage: €2635
Transport: €60
Phone bill: €10
Health insurance: paid for by work
Groceries: €120-150
Gym membership: €79
Subscriptions: Spotify €9.99, Netflix €14.99, Amazon Prime €9.49
Cleaner: €100
Savings: €500-700  

***

Monday

6.40 am I haven’t needed an alarm for the last 19 months as my toddler has taken on that role! We get a cleaner once every fortnight and he is coming today so I leave out €50 for about 4 hours’ work. I absolutely think getting a cleaner is value for money as it means I don’t need to spend my weekends or evenings scrubbing my bathroom. I can use the time better by spending it with my family and but not be living in filth!

7.40 am My mother-in-law very kindly minds our toddler while we work so I drop him down to her house on route to work. We know that not having to pay for childcare is a serious luxury and we really appreciate everything she does for us.

8.30 am My commute is not too bad and I drive so I get into work in 30 mins. I boot up the laptop and start reviewing the inbox and planning my day and week. I tend to have a lot of meetings midweek so Monday is usually my day to get on top of my to-do list.

9.00 am I need some fuel before getting stuck into work so I buy a croissant and coffee from the work canteen and eat at my desk (€2.50). 

1.00 pm Don’t have lunch in with me today so head to the work canteen. I get a salad selection for €3.25 and also buy some chocolate for the table (€2.70)

4.30 pm I finish up in the office and head home. I’m lucky that work is very flexible about start and finish times and as a trade-off, I am always available by phone in the evenings and weekends if necessary. I get petrol on the way home (€62.63) which should last me about 2.5 weeks

5.00 pm It’s another rush to try to get everyone fed between answering calls and keeping an eye on emails. I got into the slow cooker trend last year so I cooked a whole chicken while I was at work! It’ll do for tonight’s dinner as well as lunches for the next few days.

6-7.00 pm I switch off from work to play with my toddler and get him ready for bed. He is great fun at this stage and does something new nearly every day.

7.00 pm I drive out to the gym which is only 5 mins away for a 45 min class. 

8.30 pm Quick check of emails to see if there is anything urgent and spend the rest of the evening chilled out on the couch. I am a self-confessed phone addict so I catch up on the various updates on Twitter, Instagram, etc. 

10.00 pm I head up to bed but am a divil for staying up to read which means I actually don’t get to sleep until closer to 11 pm. 

   Today's total: € 121.08

Tuesday

6.50 am Same routine as Monday.

8.30 am Back to the grind, I have a pretty diverse role so I never know what could arise on any given day. It keeps me on my toes but makes for very interesting work. I top up my staff card by €20 to last me for a few weeks.

12.45 pm I am back to back meetings all morning so starving by lunchtime and my home-cooked lunch isn’t looking too appetising so I buy lunch in the canteen with my staff card. 

4.30 pm My current obsession is to create a new play area for my son as he has outgrown a lot of his baby toys. On the way home from work, I collect a miniature armchair that I ordered online from a children’s furniture company. It is €51 but that’s on sale from €81!

5 pm I eat my lunch which was last night's leftovers for dinner instead. 

8.30 pm I am quite a highly strung person by nature and so I’m prone to anxiety especially during stressful times. To help manage this, I attend a therapist once a month and I find that the sessions help to manage the anxiety. Tonight is one of the sessions and it costs €80 but you can’t put a price on mental health. 

9.45 pm Home and have a quick chill with my spouse before heading to bed.

     Today's total: €151

Wednesday

4.59 am Baby is up and crying. It takes about 20 mins to settle him. 

6.15 am Baby is up again, this time, we just leave him toys to play with and try to get closer to 7 am. 

7 am Finally drag myself out of bed.

8.40 am Arrive at work feeling like a zombie from the lack of sleep. Try my best to motor through and not even time to get a coffee.

1 pm I brought my lunch in today but I pop out to the shops to get a birthday present for my cousin, costing €40. It’s nice to get out for a fresh air stroll when you’ve been at the desk all morning.

4.30 pm Home and get dinner ready for my son. I try to be there for all the dinners during the week so I can eat with him.

5.30-6.30 pm I’m pretty busy at work at the moment so I spend a while reviewing agreements and answering emails while my spouse gets the toddler bathed and ready for bed. 

7 pm Gym class. I try to go about 2-3 times a week to justify the monthly membership! My spouse makes a Thai Green Curry with the rest of the chicken while I’m out.

8.30 pm Showered and fed, I spend the evening catching up on my Netflix shows while my spouse watches the football. 

10 pm I head to bed and after the early (late night?) start, I fall asleep straight away.

Today's total: €40

Thursday

6.45 am Hurray! The baby slept through last night. Between that and the early bedtime, I’m feeling energised for the day.

8.30 am I get into work and get some egg and toast as well as a coffee (€2.50). Thursday is always a busy meeting day for me as I work from home on Fridays. 

1 pm The morning whizzed by and it’s lunchtime before I know it. I get a salad from the canteen (€3) and then a tea and chocolate (€1.75). I always try to take lunch as it’s the only breather I get in the day. Anyone that sends me a meeting invite for lunchtime goes straight into my bad books.

5 pm On a mission to clear our freezer so we made chicken burgers for dinner. Got to use our new air fryer which was an Aldi mystery aisle purchase!

7 pm It’s late-night opening at my beauty salon so I have an appointment to get my nails done (€18). I leave feeling a lot more well-groomed and presentable. I pop into Tesco and pick up a sweet treat for dessert along with a few other bits (€12.18).  

8.30 pm Is there anything better than a cup of tea and biscuit before bed?

10 pm Bedtime. 

Today's total: €37.43

Friday

7 am I work from home on Fridays so the morning routine is more relaxed. I get the baby up and we chill out with breakfast in our PJs. 

10 am I bring the baby to a gymnastics class for a run around (€5). 

12.30 Baby goes down for his nap. I eat and have a few conference calls while attempting to tackle the self-replenishing laundry mountain. 

4.30 pm Spouse gets home and the weekend begins! My working day winds down so I stop checking emails and we play with the baby. I’ve learned that there are no such things as urgent emails. If something is truly urgent then the person will always call. 

7 pm We put the baby to bed. A family member arrives to babysit as the spouse is taking me out to dinner tonight. 

8 pm We head out to a local restaurant for dinner. It’s lovely to be out on our own for a few hours and we both promise to do it more often. Dinner comes to €90 including tip but it’s his treat so I’m not counting it.

10 pm Home and in bed by 11, wild!

Today's total: €5

Saturday

7 am Baby is up but today is my turn for a lie in so I get an extra hour to luxuriate in bed. We try to take one weekend morning each for a lie-in as it makes such a difference. 

9.30 am I bring the baby to a sensory play class. Our son is not in crèche so we try to do different activity classes with him so he has the opportunity to socialise. This class is €8 and worth every penny with the amount of effort that the teacher puts into it and the enjoyment that my son gets out of it.  

10.30 am It’s the last weekend of the January sales and my spouse has volunteered to mind the baby for the rest of the morning so I can get in some retail therapy. I head out to Kildare Village where I pick up some work clothes, two jackets and t-shirts. The total comes to €323.56 which is expensive but all were great quality clothes that were heavily discounted. 

4.00 pm My other half heads out to watch the rugby and I decide to bring the toddler out for a dinner date. Lucky he’s a cheap date and 2 happy meals cost me €8.90. 

7.00 pm I put the baby to bed and settle on the couch. I get bored which means I start shopping online and end up spending €325 in the BT sale on new bed linen and some dresses. I also buy some books for my Kindle (€20) as I’m looking for new reading material.

9.00 pm I devour my new books until I’m falling asleep with the kindle on my face. 

11.00 pm I fall fast asleep.

Today's total: €685.46

Sunday

7.00 am Today is my turn to be up with the baby and we head to the playground after breakfast for some fresh air. 

10.00 am I pick up some bits in the supermarket including half-price sirloin steaks (€3.57) which will do nicely for our dinner. Total is €8.38. 

2.30 pm We head out to do a shop for the week and stop by the local farmer’s market for a coffee. I end up getting some cakes for a treat which costs €10. We do our shop in Aldi and it costs €64.82 which is fairly average for our family. We mostly shop in Aldi or Lidl and it ranges from €40-60 depending on what surprises are in the mystery aisle!

4.00 pm We get home and hang out with the baby until he goes to bed.

8.00 pm We have the steaks for dinner and the Sunday fear starts to set in. 

10.00 pm Bedtime and looking forward to another busy week ahead!

Today's total: €83.20

Weekly subtotal: €1,123.17

What I've learned:  

  • I always knew I had a serious sweet tooth which is why I also have a gym membership. I know the treats negate the hard work at the gym but I’d prefer to have the enjoyment of the treat and work it off later.

  • I don’t tend to track my spending at all but I like to think that I am savvy about spending my money. I only spend where there is a real value in it for us e.g. the classes for my toddler and I always try to check to see if I can get the same thing at a lower price. 

  • I am a sucker for sales and I do not normally spend this amount on clothes regularly. However, I do live by the work hard, play hard mentality and luckily we earn enough to allow this lifestyle. At the end of the day, you can’t take it with you so you might as well enjoy it!

  • I do want to get back into saving properly both for our house improvements and also for a fund for my son’s future. While we are in the fortunate position of having a discretionary income, I want to ensure that the money works hard for us so I am looking into high yield savings accounts, investments and topping up my pension. 

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