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Money Diaries: A product manager on over €140K with a young family in Dublin

This week, our reader is busy balancing working from home with taking care of their children.

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 23-year-old student and fast food worker on €13K living in Dublin. This week, a product manager on over €140K living in Dublin. 

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I’m a man in my mid-40s, married with two small kids and living in Dublin City. I have a corporate job in product management. My basic salary is €142K, I get bonuses of between €30K and €50K, share grants of varying amounts and my employer contributes 14% of my base salary to my pension. I can also opt to have a portion of my salary allocated to me as shares and I can purchase shares. The advantage of this is that the share price is lower than the market value. 

While I put 14% of my salary into my pension, I have been advised to put the maximum tax-free amount in, which is quite high for my age. I get 10% of my salary directly in shares and I spend 20% of my after-tax salary on more shares (I’m maxing this opportunity out, hopefully, I’m doing the right thing).

My wife is self-employed and earns about €30K per annum, but this will probably increase – she decided to work part-time while the kids were very young, but she went back to full time recently. My kids are both in crèche, which is very expensive, but unavoidable. 

Occupation: Product manager
Age: Mid-40s
Location: Dublin City
Salary: €142,000 without bonuses and shares
Monthly pay (net): €5,850

Monthly expenses

Transport: Car insurance is about €55 a month, motor tax is €220, maintenance to get it through the NCT usually costs about €200 and we spend about €70 a month on Diesel
Mortgage: €2,800
Household bills: €80 for heating, €60 on internet with Sky - we only have Internet, not TV box
Phone bill: €60 with 3 Mobile 
Health insurance: Paid for the family by work
Crèche: €1,900 after the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme discount
Subscriptions: €67 a month for Netflix, Amazon Prime, NowTV, Disney+ and Apple TV
Savings: All in pension and shares

***

Monday 

8.00 am: Woken up by the kids. I go downstairs and put on a big pot of porridge with flax seeds for everyone. After they have their breakfast, I help them pack their bags and walk them to crèche – it’s about a mile away. The kid’s lunches are bread, cheese, fruit and yoghurts. (€5.00)

9.30 am: I check my email and do some work on a white paper report I’m writing. 

10.30 am: First call with a group from central Europe about a sales opportunity. 

11.30 am: Second call with a group from the UK, again about a sales opportunity. 

12.15 pm: I get my own breakfast, which is the porridge from earlier which has been left on a low heat. I eat it with blueberries, peanut butter and a bit of jam. I also have some freshly squeezed orange juice. The weekly cost of porridge for everyone, along with toppings and juice is about €14.00.

12.45 pm: Go outside to my back garden to work out. I invested in a squat rack and an Olympic bar with weights, so I do some weights 2-3 times a week. I recently cancelled my gym membership because I hadn’t been since early 2019. 

2.00 pm: Back at my desk. Call with the east coast of US about a US-centric marketing campaign. 

3.00 pm: Call with my boss on the west coast of the US (she’s a really early riser).

4.00 pm: Do some emails/planning before finishing up for the day. 

5.15 pm: I collect my son from crèche on foot and go for a little run around a park on the way home. My wife collected our other kid earlier because she wasn’t feeling well. 

6.00 pm: Chicken Fajitas for dinner: four free-range chicken breasts, tomatoes, four large peppers, three onions, garlic, an avocado and a fajita kit from Lidl. The entire cost of this meal is about €22.00. It takes about 45 minutes to cook and about 40 minutes to convince the kids to eat some of it.

7.30 pm: We put the kids in bed with milk. 

8.30 pm: After a long day, we tidy up and watch something on Netflix. 

10.30 pm: Off to bed. 

Today’s Total: €31.50

Tuesday

7.00 am: Kids wake up early, so do the usual routine.

8.00 am: I drop the kids off at crèche early and head to do some shopping in Dunnes. I buy meat, dairy, bread, lentils/chickpeas, detergents, cleaning, nappies, etc. (€52.00) I also pick up a coffee for my wife on the way home. (€3.00)

10.00 am: Once I get home, I work on a white paper report for work – blocked out on calendar.

12.00 pm: I have my daily porridge and take an hour out to do some work on the online course I’m doing on art history. It’s handy having it online, but with working and the kids, I definitely don’t devote as much time as I’d like to it. 

1.30 pm: Back at my desk. I work on a pitch document and pricing for an upcoming meeting right through the day.

5.30 pm: Finish work and have some wind-down time, play with the kids before dinner.

6.30 pm: I have some leftover chicken from yesterday – it’s delicious. The kids have some vegetables, but not too many, unfortunately, so we have to supplement with 2 Ella’s Kitchens.

Today’s total: €55.00

Wednesday

6.30 am: Up early for a work call with Australia. This happens sometimes and it can be disruptive, especially if I wake the kids by accident. I try to plan them for 8 am, which is close of day in Sydney. 

8.00 am: Usual routine with the kids. Make them breakfast and get them into school before 9 am. 

9.30 am: Block booked on calendar to check in on our pipeline and see how we’re doing against sales target. 

12.00 pm: I work out in the back yard, and take a Dublin bike for a 9km cycle – I do a route which is mostly cycle lanes that just happens to be 9km. 

2,00 pm: Have a UX design workshop to brainstorm and discuss some ideas for work. 

4.00 pm: I do some client check-in calls for the last hour and a half. 

6.30 pm: I eat the last of the fajita chicken, my wife has a salad and the kids have some re-heated vegi mash with some toast. My wife and I have a glass of red wine, which cost €15.00.

7.30 pm: Prolonged bedtime for the kids, don’t get them to sleep until 8.20 pm.  

8.30 pm: Watch a movie on Netflix. It wasn’t good.

11.00 pm: Time to sleep. 

Today’s total: €15.00

Thursday

8.00 am: Kids to crèche routine!

9.00 am: Start work. I work on some proposals for a couple of hours. 

11.00 am: I go out with my wife for brunch. We have tea and coffee, two main courses and some orange juice. We also leave a 15% tip and grab a couple of takeaway scones. (€45.00)

1.00 pm: We stop to pick up a few bits at Fallon & Byrne. Leave with chicken, beef, bread, and some of their salads for lunches. (€50.00)

2.00 pm: Work meetings of various kinds all afternoon. 

5.00 pm: I pick up the kids and take them to the park on the walk home. 

6.00 pm: Get home and make spaghetti bolognese for dinner. We use 0.75kg of lean mince, carrot, celery, onions, garlic, tomato and pasta. The total cost of this meal is slightly less than €15.00.

7.00 pm: Settle down to eat dinner and drink a glass of red wine with my wife. 

7.30 pm: Get the kids to bed!

8.30 pm: I have a call with the west coast US on some client issues. 

9.30 pm: Do some of my online art history course work.

11.30 pm: Head to bed.  

Today’s total: €110.00

Friday

8.00 am: Usual morning routine before getting the kids off to school with lunches on time.

9.30 am: Start off the working day with some admin (reporting etc).

12.00 pm: I do my usual workout in the yard and go for a short walk afterwards. 

1.00 pm: Back at my desk to make some client/opportunity check-in calls. I eat some leftover bolognese for my lunch. I make sloppy joes – they’re lovely!

3.00 pm: Grab two pints of Coors Lite in a bar with a friend. (€13.00

5.00 pm: On the way home, I pick up some stuff in Lidl – nuts, bread, cheese and a few treats. (€35.00)

7.00 pm: Order a Deliveroo of Japanese food for myself and my wife. (€45 with tip) Kids eat some bolognese and some mashed vegetables. 

8.30 pm: After a very tasty dinner, we put the kids to bed and watch some stuff on the TV to chill out for the rest of the evening. 

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11:00 pm: Off to bed.

Today’s total: €93.00

Saturday

8.00 am: The kids are up at the normal time – they don’t sleep in at weekends.

9.00 am: I go out and buy some croissants, paper and some fresh orange juice for breakfast. (€14)

10.00 am: We hit the Phoenix Park for a walk with the kids.

12.00 pm: I eat my porridge. This is the only diet-related thing I stick to, but today I also have a few croissants. 

3.00 pm: Family lunch – chips for the kids, along with some food we bring ourselves. (€60)

7.00 pm: I go out with a few friends for cocktails and food at a nice restaurant for a birthday celebration. This is a rare event! (€130.00

11.00 pm: Get home and head to bed. 

Today’s total: €204.00

Sunday

8.00 am: The kids are up at their normal time. Porridge for everyone!

9.00 am: Go to the petrol station and get the car filled up with Diesel. (€90.00) It generally lasts us about four weeks because we are not big drivers. We also get the car washed while we’re there. (€8.00)

1.00 pm: We drop the kids off at my parents’ house for the afternoon and go for lunch in Howth. We have some delicious seafood. (€55.00)

6.00 pm: After a peaceful afternoon by the sea, we head back to my parents’ house and have a nice family dinner there before driving back home. 

7.30 pm: The kids are tired, so we do a quick bath and get them off to bed.

8.00 pm: My wife and I watch something on TV with a cuppa each, some biscuits and a bag of nuts from Lidl.

11.00 pm: Time for bed. 

Today’s total: €153 .00

Weekly subtotal: €661.50

***

What I learned -

  • On a week-to-week basis, our shopping habits are inefficient and wasteful; Lidl is a great shop and there is really very little reason to go to the ‘premium’ supermarkets. We go out for lunch/brunch a lot and this really does add up. Apart from that, we’re pretty frugal and make meals go a long way. Personally, I love having a stew in the fridge that I can just reheat.
  • On the bigger picture, the massive hit is in tax – combined with my wife, we pay about €80K a year. I contribute 14% of my salary into my pension, which my employer matches and I am also paying 30% of my base (not bonus) salary into shares. The pension is a great idea because I get the entire 14%, instead of having to pay 52% tax on it. I am going to look at maxing this out even if it means buying fewer shares. When these outgoings are combined with the cost of crèches and mortgages, there is nothing left over each month.
  • To be honest, childcare in Ireland is completely broken. It is so absurdly expensive that it’s keeping people out of the workforce and putting working people off having kids. We’ve never really had a government in this country that could get a handle on the cost of living; it seems like banks, insurers and all the other service providers or industries are just way too smart for them.
  • All in all, I’m lucky to have a job that pays well and to have a house. The reason I’m doing all this saving is because of my age. My pension pot has €600K in it, which is not really that much given I’ve been working in fairly high paying jobs since my 20s. I also have shares, whose value fluctuates and on which I’ll have to pay capital gains tax.
  • We decided a few years ago to have kids in Ireland, knowing that the cost of living would be high and that the tax would be high, but our families are here and of course, we like it (sometimes). I had worked abroad in more demanding but also more lucrative positions. My job is very flexible and I’ve been able to take time off over the pandemic to look after the kids when the créches were closed. It’s very much a ‘life comes first’ situation. Having said that, when the kids are a bit older, we might shift gears and move to a higher pay/lower-tax country and really focus on careers for a few years so as to be able to work less when the kids (and us) are older.

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