#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 16°C Sunday 1 August 2021
Advertisement

Money Diaries: An IT consultant on €126K living and working in London

This week, our reader is busy managing family time along with long working hours.

TheJournal.ie reader

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie that looks at how people in Ireland really handle their finances.

We’re asking readers to keep a record of how much they earn, what they save if anything, and what they’re spending their money on over the course of 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. We would love to hear from you.

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, so let’s be kind.

Last time around, we heard from a warehouse worker in the west of the country. This time, an IT consultant living and working in London with a young family.

MoneyDiaries-Banner-950x170v3

I’ve been living in London for the last 16 years. It’s scary to think I’ve been away from home so long having planned to come for only a couple of years originally. Famous last words…

I guess it’s fair to say I’m all settled down given I’m married with two kids. We’re lucky enough to own a home in a decent part of West London which we moved into in early 2019. I’ve generally been good to save and wouldn’t splurge on something like a fancy car, etc.

Having said that, I do believe that you only live once so I do buy a fair amount of clothes and other non-essential bits – in the end, I’m probably pretty middle-of-the-road. Some people would save more, some less.

London isn’t a cheap place to live though generally, I’ve always found Dublin more expensive for basics like eating out, groceries and the like. Over the last few years (and definitely since Brexit) I’ve found the cost of living has gone up quite noticeably.

Property is definitely expensive in London though. We were lucky that my wife bought a place here about 10 years ago with help from her parents. When we bought our current home she had a lot of equity built up – realistically unless a couple is on really massive salaries it’s very difficult to see how everyone in society can buy a family home in London without getting a leg up somehow.

Since March 2020 I’ve been working from home full time. I spent more on lunches and travel before the pandemic but given my job much of that could be expensed and so we now just spend more on groceries. I think my overall spending has probably gone up if anything.

Life, since the pandemic started, has been OK for us to be honest. We’re close to lots of green areas and can get out and meet friends there. Since we also have two small children it’s not like we would have gone on many holidays or been clubbing anyway.

The big impact for us has been not being able to travel and see family. My parents haven’t met our almost-one-year old yet, which is rubbish. My mom also hasn’t been in great health but putting them at even greater risk by travelling home hasn’t been a runner either.

FaceTime is great and I try to chat to my parents every day but it’s not the same and I’m very keen to get back home once we’re all vaccinated.

Occupation: IT Consultant
Age: 38
Location: London
Salary: £107,500 (€126,000)
Monthly pay (net): £5,600 (€6,560)

Monthly expenses

My wife earns a bit more than me but we split almost everything 50/50. Everybody has their own system but we keep our salaries and personal accounts separate and each put a lump sum into our joint account at the start of the month.

Since most of our expenditure is now family/house/shared stuff anyway the biggest chunk of our salaries goes into the joint account to cover our costs of living. What we keep in our own accounts is for us to save or spend on our own bits like clothes, gadgets etc.

All of the monthly costs below are my ‘half’ of the actual totals i.e. the mortgage is £1654 total but I list my half as £827 etc. Unless otherwise stated everything in the list below and in my day-by-day is my ‘half’.

Nanny for our two boys: £1150
Mortgage: £827
Transport (Car payments for car sitting idly in the drive): £146
Council Tax (something we don’t have in Ireland): £96.50
Power & heating: £54
House insurance: £35
Car insurance: £30
Water: £27.50
TV license: £7 monthly
Phone bill: £0 (company paid)
Health insurance: £0 (wife’s company policy)
Broadband and phone: £21
Groceries: £400 (our food bills have gone bonkers since the pandemic – all our meals are now at home and food prices have gone up since Brexit. I do list out the food bits in my diary below and as you’ll see it’s the majority of our spend now.)
Subscriptions: Monitored alarm £10; Spotify £6.50; Netflix £5; New York Times £3

***

Monday

6.45 am: I’m up with a bang as our almost four-year-old is shouting down the stairs and my wife nudges me to go grab him before he wakes our almost one-year-old. It’s the usual morning routine of sorting out the boys, wolfing down brekkie (five Weetabix and a load of berries and nuts along with my usual cup of coffee this morning) and reading mails/checking my work diary. The nanny arrives around 8 so my wife can jump on calls.

8.50 am: I take the eldest to nursery and drop him off at 8.55 before jumping on a team call I can do whilst walking in the park. As it happens there seems to be no reception though my phone assures me I have 4G. In the end I can’t get on and need to scurry home so I can join the call.

10.30 am: After my first calls I decide to buy a pair of jeans, which cost me £120. I’ve had my eye on them for a few weeks and had waited till the new statement month for my credit card (which starts today) and so now is the time.

11.40 am: Though I had a pretty big brekkie I’m hungry and decide to have a slightly early lunch. I decide on a salad which my wife also wants to share so load up a big bowl of tuna, sweet corn, tomatoes, cucumber, feta, grilled halloumi, beetroot and seeds.

1.30 pm: Work is quieter this week as the Spanish company we’re working on the current deal with are on Easter break. It’s the nicest day of the year so far so I decide to head to the High Street for a walk in the sun and to stop off at the supermarket to get some bits. Total (again all of these costs are my ‘halves’) comes to £15.00.

2.00 pm: On the way home I buy a scratch card and a Kombucha drink. Total is £6.80. I win nothing as usual but I like the cheap(ish) thrill.

5.25 pm: Rest of the day is spent on calls, which luckily can be done outside so I can get fresh air and get my 10k steps. I jump in the shower and shave so I’m ready to grab the boys from the nanny when she leaves at 5.50. Then it’s playtime, story time and general corralling into PJ’s until they go down shortly after 7.

7.30 pm: My wife is knackered as my eldest was up shouting and telling stories at 4 am the previous night and she couldn’t get back to sleep. We’re both tired and it’s a basic dinner of yesterday’s Sunday roast chicken and a nuked sweet potato (surprisingly good) with some sweet corn and salad-y bits.

9.45 pm: After an episode of Fleabag and a few work emails it’s into bed to read on my Kindle for a few minutes. I’m reading about the White House Farm murders after watching the series on Netflix after previously reading three books on Joe Biden. I take a peak on the New York Times on my iPad and then it’s dreamy sleepy nighty snoozy snooze time just after 10.

                                        Today’s total: £141.80 (€166.00)

Tuesday

5.15 am: I’m awake early for the simple reason that my eldest started loudly telling himself stories upstairs and after a quick call of nature there’s no way I’m getting back to sleep. I put on Thomas the Tank Engine stories for my son in this room on the Sonos and try to snooze until it’s really time to get up just before 7.

8.50 am: An almost identical routine to the previous day – school run, no phone reception, scurry home to work through our team status report. I then have a review of a colleague’s promotion case for an hour and watch him presenting it, which is interesting. It’s genuinely interesting to do this stuff and I really want him to do well which helps me stay engaged.

11.30 am: Busy enough morning but feel productive. It’s another early lunch – this time some leftover salad from yesterday and fish which takes about five mins on the pan. A few months back a guy managed to convince us to buy 30 packs of fresh fish, which promptly went into the freezer, and we’ve been working through it since. It’s pretty bland, to be honest, but I feel it’s like a challenge as I want to use it up and not just leave it unloved and uneaten in the freezer for months and months.

11.50 am: I pick up my son from nursery. Usually, my wife and I split the duties morning and afternoon but she’s busy today. As soon as I get home it’s back upstairs to my chair in the family room (which I’ve occupied for 12 months since the pandemic struck) for more work.

3.00 pm: It’s a gorgeous day (24 degrees!) so I grab a Kombucha from the fridge, swap the sweater for a t-shirt and head out to call my parents and listen to a podcast.

4.30 pm: Back online for more meetings that run until 6.15 pm or so.

6.30 pm: It’s still sunny and warm and we decide to go wild and have a late-March barbecue. I take my eldest for a stroll to the shop as I want to spend some time with him and he seems super-excited to have a little trip out with daddy before bed. Everybody seems to have the same idea so all the burgers are sold out. I end up grabbing a pack of meaty sausages, some big flat mushrooms, corn on the cob, peppers and halloumi as well as a little treat for my son. £6.50

7.15 pm: Once the boys are down I fire up the barbecue, make some skewers with the halloumi and peppers and then throw everything on. The gas barbecue is super quick and perfect for getting all the food on the table by 7.30 or so.

8.00 pm: 2.5 episodes of Fleabag followed by a quick Baileys before heading to bed around 9.45. I then finish off my book and it’s sleepy time at 10.45.

                           Today’s total: £6.50 (€7.60)

Wednesday

5.45 am: I wake early again for a call of nature. No reason not to go back to sleep as the house is quiet as a mouse but all I can manage is halfway sub-conscious doze until 7.30 when my wife wakes. Then it’s the morning routine with the added bonus of squeezing in the NYT mini crossword to get the grey matter going.

8.55 am: I drop my son at school just before 9 and then it’s back into the Zoom / Teams meeting blur until 12 when I come up for air.

12.00 pm: Another day, another lunch. It’s another decent day and so we’re aiming for another barbecue this evening. To avoid the slippery slope towards circus fat I decide to make us a healthy salad.

1.45 pm: I head out for a walk by the river and call my parents to check in and see how they’re doing. They haven’t even met our youngest yet as we decided not to go home for Christmas. I try to check in every day. I’m 38 and I could say it was just me checking in but really I just like chatting to them. My wife goes to the shop to get more bits for tonight’s backyard, lockdown barbecue. Damage is: £9.00.

5.30 pm: Rest of the day after 3 pm was meeting heavy. My wife books our eldest into an outdoor play camp for tomorrow and an Easter Egg hunt for Saturday. He’s pretty sociable and we think he’ll enjoy the playtime. It’s decent weather, it’ll make him happy and also ease the workload on our nanny trying to wrangle the two kids and take care of the house. Wins for everybody! £35.00

7.15 pm: Plan was to do a quick home workout followed by burgers, halloumi, mushrooms and corn on the cob off the barbecue but it’s getting dark by the time we get the boys down and so I do the grilling while my wife does a quick yoga session. My fit bit says 13,000 steps and I think I’ve earned these bad boys. The evening is capped off by the last episodes of Fleabag.

10.10 pm: Quick read of The Journal and New York Times on my iPad and it’s off to la-la-land…

                             Today’s total: £44.00 (€52)

Thursday

6.45 am: Up and at ‘em. School’s out for our eldest as it’s Easter and my wife is doing the drop off at the outdoor Easter camp. As my wife is on point it’s a more relaxing morning and I do my first call at 9 still in shorts and a t-shirt.

9.30 am: I join civilisation and get dressed before another meeting at 10, which runs until 11 but isn’t the most taxing. Reviewing contract schedules isn’t the most exciting but I try to stay focused comfortable in the knowledge that the day ahead looks pretty empty. Next week looks like a nightmare from a diary perspective so I savour the easier week pre-Easter. Turns out the camp doesn’t provide food so my wife nips out to buy some lunch bits for my son £4.80 and gets us coffees from the coffee stand at the local station £2.80.

11.30 pm: I drop off my son’s lunch at the camp in the local park. He seems to be having a blast with the other kiddies, which is great to see. The nanny has set up an Easter egg hunt for the boys in our back garden. She’s put loads of effort in so I decide to nip to the High Street to try and find her a nice Easter Egg to say happy Easter and thanks for being so good to the boys. Our local high street is great with nice shops but the pandemic means most of it is shut. In the end, I settle for a big box of chocolates from M&S, which I pay for at £18.00 and then grab some fruit and other food bits from Waitrose, which is £6.00 each. Meetings get cancelled left, right and centre before the Easter break so head through the park on my way home and get to see my son working his way through his adult-size lunch – no wonder our food bill is sky-high.

12.40 pm: My wife texts to ask if I’d fancy splitting the last two burgers along with the remaining salad from yesterday’s batch. I scurry home and we have a fairly chilled lunch together which is rare given we both have full-on jobs. A nice benefit of the more relaxed pre-Easter week. Our youngest is growing fast and so we need to drop the base of his crib before he does a nosedive over the edge. I put on a podcast and merrily use the drill to take the whole thing apart and reassemble. My wife teases me that I take any excuse to use the drill. It’s actually had a lot of use since I bought it but she’s right that I’m oddly keen to stick my hand up for DIY these days. Becoming middle-aged…

2.15 pm: Back to the laptop to tidy up some loose ends from my to-do list whilst listening to Spotify. I have a good bit to close off before the long weekend but it’s way better to be able to actually do stuff rather than all-day back-to-back meetings. Just before packing up, I decide to put the last £20 of an ASOS voucher I got from work towards some razor blades. Couldn’t think of anything else to buy on there as so put it toward something I’ll actually use. Postage and the balance run me £7.80. My son really enjoyed today’s activities so we sign him up for tomorrow morning also, £12.50.

5.45 pm: After a quick shower it’s back to the bedtime routine. We succeed in getting both boys down by 7. I got for a quick run and my wife treats us to a takeaway, which arrives just after 8. I’m famished and wolf it down. My wife goes on Instagram and orders us a fruit and veg box from a local couple, which costs us £11.50 each. We finish the bank holiday Thursday with a movie. We find it easy to agree on TV shows but never seem to find a movie we both like. We settle on a Mark Walhberg film called ‘Instant Family’. It’s not going to win any Oscars but it’s easy watching at the end of the week. Sleepy time after 11 – madness!

                           Today’s total: £63.40 (€74.50)

Friday

6.15 am: It’s a standard morning (well it’s a Bank Holiday but that makes no difference to small children) as I wake to hear my son singing and telling himself stories. I put some stories on the Sonos again to keep him occupied before finally peeling myself out of bed just after 7. Standard issue morning before taking my son to another half day at the camp around 9.

8.30 am: We’d decided to get the front door and garage door painted as the previous owners chose a green which isn’t our bag and two years in it’s time for a change. The painter arrives and starts work. We’ll find out later in the day how much he’s going to charge. Keep scrolling to this evening to find out…

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

9.15 am: Back home for another cup of coffee, stick a wash on and order some sports clothes and something for the bike for my nephew who’s turning 9 in a few days. The total comes to £44.00 which I cover as it’s my nephew. The veg box also arrives and I spend part of the morning unpacking and washing it. It’s decent value – even against the big supermarkets – and the quality is definitely a cut above.

1.45 pm: After my wife collects my son and we have lunch (fish and veggies cooked by my own fair hand) and we all head out for a walk. Our neighbours are randomly leaving the house at the exact same time. As they’re sound and have two boys around the same age as ours we decide to head out together and we shoot off in a buggy convoy. They suggest getting ice cream and we grab some before heading to another local park (lockdown fun!) Damage is £5.50.

4.45 pm: We head back home and leave the neighbours kicking around a football. Our eldest is knackered after two days of the camp. The painter has done an amazing job and though he thought it might take a second day he’s all done. Costs us £80.00 each (we bought the paint last year before the weather turned wintry so am only counting his labour cost here).

6.30 pm: I bath the boys and then it’s lentils for dinner after last night’s takeaway before finally getting the boys down around 7 and watching some non-memorable TV for the rest of the evening. Bedtime around 10 and I’m not ashamed to say I’m yearning for my bed at that point.

                       Today’s total: £129.50 (€152)

Saturday

7.35 am: I wake up to a quiet house and am shocked when I look at the time. I sync my FitBit and it says I had 8hr 12m of sleep and an 87% sleep score. I find since I got the watch I’m almost competing with myself for solid sleep and I feel pretty pleased with the results. We get the boys, do the morning routine and then my wife takes my eldest for a drive to the supermarket (she’s going to do a roast lamb for Easter). A big leg of lamb and other food comes to £27.50 each.

9.30 am: I put the little man down for his nap before hanging up the laundry I’d done this morning. I then sit down and browse the Instagram time vacuum. I like photography and a photographer I follow, Bernard Geraghty, has a new video up from Dingle, which is very cool – much better than the usual mindless scrolling. I also end up buying a polo in the AllSaints sale for £27.00.

12.30 pm: After a pretty chilled morning, we head to the park where my son is doing an ‘Easter Egg Hunt’. It’s really more of the camp he’d done earlier in the week but with way more kiddies and a guy dressed as the Easter bunny who’s had tons of coffee or is just high on life – he’s bouncing around like it’s the Ministry of Sound at 3 am on a Sunday morning. We meet friends who have two kids basically the same age as ours and spend the afternoon hanging around whilst the kids go nuts safely. It’s easy to properly chat and hang out outdoors – even easier when the kids are occupied and supervised. There’s a food market on – kind of a farmer’s market type thing – and my wife buys a load of cheese £11.50 and some coffees for us £2.80.

7.00 pm: Rest of the day is pretty uneventful. Bath, bed and beyond for the kids after salmon for dinner. My wife and I sit down to watch ‘Game Night’ which I’ve seen before but is easy-watching. Halfway through I remember I promised to do a Zoom call with a good buddy who’s just moved back to Ireland. It’s good to catch up over a G&T. Not sure if it’s Brexit-related or just coincidence but loads of our friends seem to have bailed on the UK in the last year or so. The friends we met earlier in the day are also soon to go back to Germany after years in London. We’ll need to go speed-dating for new friends…

                     Today’s total: £68.80 (€80.10)

Sunday

7.05 am: I wake up to a silent house again. OK, slightly earlier than yesterday but it’s another 8-hour sleep and I’m taking that as a win. Rinse and repeat with the morning routine but that’s just fine. People understandably complain about the samey-ness of life in Corona-ville but when you’ve got two small children it’s pretty routine anyway. We FaceTime my parents as they had bought Easter gifts for the boys and I want my parents to see them opening them. We chat for a while until it’s time for the little guy to take his morning nap. I’m tempted to join him, as I’m still sleepy.

10.30 am: We mooch around the house and then go sit in the back yard as it’s another lovely day. My wife chops some veggies and pops these in the oven for a super slow roast with the leg of lamb. I head to the shop and get a bottle of red, a bottle of white and some veggies as we decide it’s nice enough for a light veggie barbecue before the main event later in the day. £13.70 The local supermarket didn’t have any peppers so I decide to pop to the over-priced deli. As I’m walking out I say to my wife that we should maybe have got some bubbles and she enables my Sunday boozing with little encouragement. Some veggies and a few bottles of Kombucha comes to £12.00 total so £6.00 each. These must be the world’s best peppers and aubergine and as I tot it up in my head I dread to think how much the individual bits were. I stop at the little grocer / off-license and pick up a bottle of Prosecco for £8.99 before arriving home and pledging to avoid any more shop runs.

12.30 pm: A veggie barbecue goes down a treat and is light enough to avoid any risk of not devouring the lamb later on. We play with the boys in the garden for a couple of hours and once the little guy goes down for his nap I head off for a walk to get my 10k steps. My wife texts to say she’d like a walk before dinner and can I get some milk on my way back. Another shop run! I grab the milk and some more raspberries on offer. It’s £2.20 each. Back home and see that my wife is taking my eldest for a walk too. I get to hang out solo with my younger son and it’s great to have that one-on-one time as he’s really starting to ‘do’ stuff now. I also keep a greedy eye on the lamb in one oven and the roast potatoes in the other.

5.30 pm: Roast lamb and roast potato time with some cut-price but really tasty bubbles. We don’t quite demolish everything but it’s a good effort all around.

7.30 pm: Once the boys are down and my wife’s done her yoga we settle down for another easy-watching movie. This time it’s another Jason Bateman comedy called ‘The Switch’. No classic but not bad.

9.45 pm: Jump into bed to read the NYT for half an hour. Buy Hunter Biden’s book on Amazon for £9.99 after reading a review but need to wait until Tuesday for its release. Lights out around 10.15 and that’s all she wrote…

                          Today’s total: £30.89 (€35.90)

Weekly subtotal: £484.89 (€568.10)

What I learned –

  • I would say that the weekly spend here is higher than usual – Easter camp, the painting, the clothes purchases, the extra Easter food – but there always seems to be something as anybody with a house and kids will understand. In the end, it’s a bit higher than usual but not massively.
  • My working week is usually much more stressful and full-on so the routine here might seem very relaxing but alas it’s only been like this as it was Easter week.
  • I know we spend a ridiculous amount on food. Totting all of the shared spend up in this week it comes to nearly £250 (€290) (from our joint account) excluding the takeaway. OK, it was Easter time but that’s a big portion of our overall spend in any case. People could reasonably say ‘do a big shop and plan ahead’ but we do this – the week before we got a big Tesco shop and this was on top. In the end, I don’t know an easy way to decrease this as we almost never waste any food (my wife and I hate throwing food out) and we don’t have any Aldis or Lidls near us as most towns in Ireland have.
  • I’m aware my wife and I have a great combined household income. Apart from the crazy food budget, we don’t live extravagantly. We’re able to save every month but not big parts of our salaries (I reckon I’ve saved <£1500 per month personally over the last year). OK, London isn’t cheap but it’s not Zurich or Tokyo. It makes me realise how much of a struggle it must be for many people.
  • We were lucky to be able to pay a big chunk into the house so the loan to value ratio is fairly low. Even at that we then went for a 30-year mortgage and fixed the rate in case of a rainy day. I think we would be better off long term to pay off another little chunk and decrease the term of the mortgage.
  • I pay 8% of my gross salary into a workplace pension in case anybody is trying to work out the numbers.

About the author:

TheJournal.ie reader

Read next:

COMMENTS (105)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel