How I Spend My Money A 55-year-old woman in Dublin who cares for her elderly mother and works part-time in a shop

This week, our reader explains how she and her husband bought their house in 2003 for over 500K, which caused them some hardship, but now they live a happy life of careful spending.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on running weekly and looking 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.

Last week, we heard from a 32-year-old factory worker with a young family, who was recovering from cancer and getting help from social welfare. This week, we meet a mother in her 50s in north county Dublin, who works part-time and cares for her elderly mother, having bought a house with her husband for a high price in 2003.


I am a 55-year-old mother of two and I live in north county Dublin. I rent out part of my house for €1,000 per month to a lovely family of four. We bought our house in 2003 for €550,000. We’d only get €450,000 now for it, and that’s why I rent some space out.

It’s rented under the rent-a-room scheme, whereby you can rent out a room for under a certain threshold without paying tax. I am fully compliant with this and it really helps with my income.

I don’t save. I have a happy life. My husband and I work part-time. I work in a shop in the city centre for over 18 hours a week and I care for my mam, who is 90 and has dementia. My husband works 25 hours a week in the country helping a friend build a house.

Occupation: Sales assistant and carer for my mother
Age: 55
Location: Dublin
Salary: €10,000
Monthly pay (net): €760

Monthly expenses
Mortgage: €825 (my husband pays it)
Household bills: €150 on electricity, heating and insurance
Phone bill: €30
Groceries: €150 
Eating out: €60



7am I am not in work today so I get up and go to my friend’s home.

8am Four of us do yoga together. We have breakfast afterwards and a great laugh. It’s €10. I’m not very good but it helps my bad back.

10am I go to Lidl and get some fruit and a big bag of crisps. That’s €4.80. I go to my mam next – she’s 90 years old and lives in Meath, which is a half-hour away. We have lunch and I dress her legs as she has ulcers. I clean her house and get her groceries. For lunch, I have crisp sandwiches and fruit, and my mam has jam sandwiches. I have a bath there and wash our laundry. I have no shower or bath at my house as I gave those facilities to my tenants. I don’t have a washing machine either. I spend the day there.

7pm I go to the pub with my friend. I don’t drink. The pub plays music so it’s a great fun night out. That’s €7.30 for a pint for my friend and mineral for me. We also have a pizza between us, which costs €10.50.

Today’s total: €32.60


8am This is my favourite day as I have a full day off and I go out with a friend. We usually go to the beach, the park or a museum. 

12pm This week we go to Howth for the day. We get chips for €3.50 and do lots of walking. It’s a nice mild day so my daughter visits my mam to make sure she’s ok on this day. We are on the waiting list for home help and have been there for one year. When I do get home help for my mam it will be for four hours a week. My mam looks after herself really well but she’s just very forgetful and has bad legs. She just needs someone to check in on her.

7pm That night I get a visit from my tenant’s 10-year-old daughter. She watches Emmerdale with me. She’s a lovely young girl. After she leaves I ring my son in Spain. He’s working in southern Spain, near Granada. I ring on Whatsapp so it’s free.

 Today’s total: €3.50


10am Today I go to my mam. I change her bed and have my bath. My mam has dementia so the forgetfulness is an issue. She isn’t too bad, she just forgets day-to-day things.

The first time I noticed it was about five years ago when she was writing her Christmas cards. One was for her sister, Catherine, and she asked how to spell ‘Catherine’. I told her but she still didn’t write the name, and then said: “what does C look like”. That was so upsetting for me. I couldn’t believe the person who had taught me to read and write, do my homework, read me a bedtime story, now couldn’t remember the letter ‘C’.

12pm We have lunch. After lunch, we do some baking. My mam likes to keep busy. I don’t spend any money. My husband is coming home from Roscommon where he is working. I prepare some nice food. My husband had a great job as an engineer and he gave it up in 2005 to set up a business, but it didn’t work. It was too demanding and he wasn’t cut out for the tough slog of running your own business. Then the recession came.

But now everything is good, really, we live a simple life. And we are happy. I just wish we could sell our house but maybe one of our children will want it and we can build a smaller house in the garden for us. We have a five-year plan so let’s wait and see.  We bought the house so my husband could have his business from there. It has a large garage and a big garden. At the moment we share it with a family. That is working out fine. Let’s see what happens in the future. I know my tenants are saving to buy a house. When the time comes, we will try to sell.

Today’s total: €0.00


9am I go to my mam before I go to work. I have my shower there and help her with whatever she needs.

11am My husband drops me into work. He stays in town and has lunch with our daughter. I don’t spend money on my working day. I bring a packed lunch to work so that saves money, too.

7 pm In the evening we meet after work and go for something to eat. We get a meal for €15 including the tip and we share it. It’s lovely and I don’t have to cook.

 Today’s total: €15


7am I leave to go to my mam’s with my husband. I give my mam her bath. This morning at 9 am the community nurse comes to dress my mam’s legs, and the nurse is fantastic. She gives so much support and advice. The nurse is a lifeline.

When I thought of life as a carer, I thought of the practical jobs you’d have to do for the person you’re caring for. However, it is much more than that. I am my mother’s connection with the outside world, I also have to make sure she is happy and mentally active. This is the hardest part. It’s so upsetting to see her depressed or worried so I keep my conversation upbeat and I try to not lose my patience even though sometimes I do. I try to think up things to keep her busy like baking, knitting, scrapbooks, colouring books, etc. I don’t go on holidays as I am an only child and there is no one else to look after her. I’m happy to do this as I love my mam and I love her company.

11am I get the bus to work, it’s €3.30. Not spending any money in my day and because I bring food, it’s a great way of saving.

7pm My husband picks me up from work. We go for something to eat, a pizza. We spend €15, including tip and then head home.

 Today’s total: €18.30


9am Today my husband looks after my mam.

11am I go to work in the morning on the bus, again that’s €3.30. My lunch is coming from home, so all good on the spending front.

7pm My husband always picks me up from work. He parks for free in Glasnevin and we walk to the car. It is extravagant to get the lift but I have a sore back and he is very kind to me. I love my job in a shop. I meet lots of people and I like the other staff. We eat out, costing €15.

Today’s total: €18.30


8am Today we go to car boot sales. I love this. Everything I have is secondhand, I never buy new. I get my son a pair of boots and an Aran jumper for his birthday. The boots are like new and were €8 and are leather. He is a size 8, the boots are a 9 but he can wear a thick sock. I also got him a real wool Aran jumper for €10. It has a stain but I’m sure I can wash it out.

12pm I’ll get some sweets in the euro shop and send them to him in Spain. I get two videos for my mam of Laurel and Hardy costing €2. Some jewellery and a scarf for my tenant’s daughter for €2 and I get a nice bag for €5 for my daughter. I get a book for €1 and a dress for summer for €5. I go to my mam’s and buy some nice cakes on the way, €5 and €10 on sweets in Dealz.

2pm  My husband goes to Roscommon in the afternoon for his three-day work. I wouldn’t live in this house if we didn’t have the tenants as we were burgled twice. I’m a bit nervous at night.

Today’s total: €48

Weekly subtotal: €135.70

What I’ve learned:

  • Since I don’t have kids living at home, I spend a lot less.
  • This is just my bills and income. My husband pays bills and buys things but doesn’t want to be featured here.
  • I could move in with my mam or she could move in with me, but she doesn’t want to. She loves her home and wants to live there.

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