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How I Spend My Money: A finance worker on €34,000 who sees no point trying to save for a house

Some demoulding around the apartment and a bill from RTÉ make for a pricey week.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on that 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? Details on how to do it are at the bottom of the piece.

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, a marketing manager on €60,000 a year gave us an account his week and today, a financial services worker living in the capital explains his daily spending habits.


Occupation: Financial services
Age: 27
Location: South Dublin
Salary: €34,000
Monthly pay (net): €2,350

Monthly expenses

Rent: €1,475 (split €775 to me and €700 to herself)
Household bills: €190
Transport: €20
Phone bill: €45
Health insurance: €40
Groceries: €150
Subscriptions: €25
Gym membership: €60
Work holiday fund: €70
Pension contribution: €70

Myself and my girlfriend live together in a one-bedroom apartment, roughly 35 minutes walking distance from the city centre where we both work. We would like to carry on living in Dublin, and indeed close to town.

As a result we are in relative gay abandon when it comes to money, rent excluded. To purchase a home in an area that we would like to live, we would require incomes twice more than we currently earn for a mortgage. We have come to the realisation that there is little point scrimping and saving to buy a house or an apartment that we resent, in an area that we are unhappy.

On a good month I save €150, generally it’s more in the region of €100. You might ask for what am I saving? Indeed I ask myself that question too. It’s most likely for a rainy day, but to be honest, it’s probably better in the bank than in the cash registers of Dublin’s pubs. 



My alarm goes off. It’s 6.40 am. It’s the moment I’ve been dreading since leaving work on Saturday lunchtime. I’m not a morning person, my reveille is unwelcome. Getting out of the bed is akin to a barnacle being prised from the underbelly of a ship with a toothpick.

Following a far-too-long shower, I wander into the kitchen. It’s 7.10 am. I need to be in work at 7.45 am. Nothing, literally nothing, is worth missing breakfast for. I am absolutely comfortable with making myself late in order to eat a breakfast. I add some muesli to yogurt (SuperValu own brand, very tasty, plenty of fruit) and follow this up with a handful of M&Ms, the bag was lying out on the countertop and far too inviting to avoid. Grabbing the sandwich I made last night, I rush out the door without a moment to lose and negotiate Dublin’s crowded morning streets.

Luckily I’m only five minutes late this morning. I generally enjoy a mid-morning coffee. Today one of my colleagues bought a delicious flat white in Lolly and Cooks, but had to rush into a meeting before he could drink it. Sad to see a good coffee go to waste, so I contentedly lap it up – if anyone asks it was cold and binned.

I head to the gym after work. This keeps me out of Dublin’s taverns. Arriving home, herself has the dinner on as she returned from work first.

Today’s total: €0


Woke up. Fell out of bed. Dragged a comb across my head. Little bit of a lie in today, covering a colleague’s later shift so no need for me to be in the office until 10am.

Having said that, still a bit of a struggle to be on time as I need to collect dry cleaning: a winter overcoat, suit trousers and a tie: total €38.

If I’m in a hurry to get to work and fancy a cooked breakfast, I don’t waste money on a breakfast roll from Spar. I grab an egg or two from the fridge, cut two slices of black pudding relatively thin and wrap in tin foil. When I get into work, I drop the eggs into the kettle and put on boil, throw the black pudding wrapped in tin foil into the toaster and switch on. Delicious. Generally most offices have a spare cut of bread lying around too. Hey presto, you’ve got yourself a first-class brekkie.

For lunch today I went to the local deli. Got a brown roll with pastrami, Swiss cheese, coleslaw and a couple of pickles, total €5.15. The sandwich is delicious, but half the fun is the people watching. Groups of people orbiting the salad bar, plucking out measly morsels of mulch, relenting at the till and adding a sly Catch bar to the purchase. I’m sure yogalates later will burn that off.

I went to rehearsals with my amateur theatre group after work so gave dinner a miss. 

Today’s total: €43.15


Another grand lie in as I’m in the office for 10am. Slightly more expensive start to the morning as I received a letter threatening fines for not paying the TV Licence. As a staunch supporter of our national broadcaster, national orchestras and national psychosis, I hastened to pay this €160 as soon as possible.

Had a nice breakfast at home of egg salad on bread and prepared my lunch yesterday evening from the weekly grocery shop.

Had a rough enough day, so on the way home bought a bottle of plonk (€10) for the two of us. 

Today’s total: €170


Shock horror, back to that awful early start of 7.45am. Wake up at 6.30am and the day begins with more of the same. 

Today I was at an external event where there was pizza. Cost of lunch, nil.

Popped into the parents on the way to rehearsals this evening where I was made feel guilty, as usual, for not saving for a mortgage. Somehow I feel I’m right and the world is wrong. If there’s a more benevolent, kind-hearted demographic in Irish society other than landlords I’d like to meet them. Oh yeah, bank workers.

Myself and herself are heading to London in December to visit friends, and from there to Amsterdam to visit other friends, who incidentally moved due to the rising cost of rent in Dublin. We’re taking the train from London to Amsterdam, and it was less expensive than you might think, €40 each. That’s already paid and we booked our flights last month, €60 return. London is horrifically expensive for accommodation so ended up paying €240 between us for three nights in a Premier Inn in Clapham, followed by €190 for three nights in Haarlem. Pay day is two weeks away so this is all going on the credit card to be addressed at a later period. We were already very good and paid for the flights and the train up front.

My advice, if you are visiting friends abroad, NEVER STAY WITH THEM. If you stay with them you become indebted to them. This could potentially result in some manner of financial expenditure in the form of a pint, or working on the principle that a bird never flew on one wing – two pints.

Today’s total: €215


Day went as usual, got up and went to work. Looking forward to a three-day weekend ahead of me.

Brought a lunch with me, a nice plain ham sandwich and some soup.

A work event followed the day, so myself and a few colleagues bought a couple of beers and had them in the office. Nice soothing beer. The perfect medicine and antidote for the week.

Headed to the event which was in a different office in town and thank god there was a free bar. Costs were hence kept to a minimum. I did somehow manage to spend a couple of euro on pints afterwards in the local boozer, according to online banking.

Today’s total: €16.50


Felt rough, to say the least. The only thing to be done in such inauspicious circumstances is to clean.

As with all Dublin rental accommodation, mould is an issue in the apartment. Not as substantial as I have seen in some places, but still needed attention. I went to the hardware store and purchased a mould remover, which was €13.50, and a tin of WD40 for my bicycle (€8). I treated the affected area with the mould remover and nearly passed out from the fumes.

Had a friend over for dinner tonight before we headed out to one of our associate’s birthdays. Cooked up a grand bit of pork steak and the friend brought wine for us.

Again in retrospect, I opened up the online banking the following day to analyse the cost of the evening, it was €48.50. I have no intention of listing the individual drinks I consumed. I am writing this the following day and feel somewhat nauseous. Thinking of the pints is doing nothing to improve my health.

Today’s total: €70


Had a three-hour rehearsal today with my amateur theatre group.

Bought a two-litre bottle of fizzy water. I find the bubbles in it most soothing for the old liver. Don’t ask me to put my hand in my pocket besides, for I am genuinely penniless until payday.

Back to the old grind tomorrow. Can someone let me off this carousel of carnage called life?

Today’s total: €1.68

Weekly subtotal: €516.33

What I’ve learned:

  • After discussing the money diary with several people, chatting about my spending, why I do what I do and why I am reticent to try to buy property, I was truly shocked with what a national obsession property it is. So many people in their late 20s and early 30s save every penny they have to purchase a piece of something at a grossly inflated cost. My father always told me that you have one run at life. This isn’t a rehearsal, it’s the real thing. By all means plan for tomorrow, but live for today.
  • In reality, I firmly believe I could save more. This, to be fair, was a particularly expensive week. A trip away is not a monthly event and a bill from RTÉ is also not a regular occurrence. But in the grand scheme of things, bringing a sandwich from home to save €3 pales in comparison to the gross excesses of our current property market. We can all try to satisfy ourselves with working towards something bigger, saving for that dream home, scrimping and saving for the future you saw in the Sherry Fitzgerald advert, but in a market within which all the odds are stacked against you, you must ask the question, why bother?
  • If the most recent UN climate report is anything to go by, a vast bulk of prime real estate in Dublin will probably be submerged by the time we reach retirement. Reading plenty of articles on a day-to-day basis about global warming will also stop you from buying a car – and encourage you to eat less red meat.

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 


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