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Money Diaries: A support worker on €35K living with her partner in the south west of the country

This week, our reader is disciplined in saving for her wedding after recently getting engaged.

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WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on The Journal 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 customer service clerk on €38k who bought a home outright with savings. This week, a support worker on €35k living with her partner in the south west of the country. 

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I am a support worker for a care organisation in the south west of Ireland. I work days – any overtime worked is taken as time owed. I am out with clients daily in the community so I do a lot of walking and driving in my job depending on activities.

At the start of 2021, my partner and I moved into our own place (renting), so a lot of extra expenses this year compared to house sharing last year. Currently, we share all household bills, we have a joint savings account and I also try to save independently of this. We also adopted a stray cat this year and all bills related to the cat are shared.

Overall, I think I have good saving habits. My partner and I started nearly three years ago with our joint account and we have religiously added money to it weekly. My own personal saving was going good until I decided to clear my car loan a few months ago – it’s slowly creeping back up again. While my partner and I had initially planned to go for a mortgage this year, that has now been put on hold as we recently got engaged and now all future savings will be used towards our wedding in 2023. Currently I save €60 into our joint account and an additional €120 into my personal account weekly.

I like to think I am good with my money. I try to put aside a small amount every week to cover most of my expected ventures, from the electric bill, to my phone credit, to my car insurance. This could be anywhere between €5 to €30 depending on the week’s average spend. I am interested to see if the diary will highlight any spending habits that could be improved!

Occupation: Support worker
Age: 28
Location: Southwest of Ireland
Salary: €35,833
Monthly pay (net): €2,361 (after pension contribution)

Monthly expenses

Transport: €220 approx
Rent: €650 (my partner pays rent and Sky, so I cover savings and give him an additional €100 monthly)
Joint Savings: € 500
Personal Savings: €500
Household bills: €100 approx
Phone bill: €20
Health insurance: €52.25
Groceries: €220 approx
Subscriptions: Spotify – €9.99, Disney+ – €6.99, gym membership – €35, Sky – €50, SIPTU – €17.33, Netflix – €0.00 (I use my sister’s and she uses my Disney+)

***

Monday

6.50 am: Woke up before my alarm. After four days of suffering through a severe head cold, I feel much better this morning. A quick change of clothes, pack my lunch and a tea to go and I am in the car within 30 minutes. It’s a 50-60-minute drive to work depending on traffic. Spin South West and the tea kills the time. I arrive at work at 8.20 am – a 10 minute head start. Excellent.

8.20 am: Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. After being off sick last week, there are a few extra jobs I have to chase down. I book in my clients for the day and get my activities organised.

10.00 am: Off I go for my morning activity with clients. Clients stop while out to have a cuppa and the smell of the coffee has me hooked. I grab a cappuccino whilst out with them. I have a petty cash allowance so today’s coffee costs me €0.50. After I finish up with clients and get back to the office, I go for the next activity in the afternoon. Quick spot of lunch, which is brought in from home. I buy bits in the weekly shop and bring them in. I’m reluctant to spend money on lunches as it adds up quickly. Once a week I may treat myself to buying lunch.

1.30 pm: Off I go again with clients for the evening – no tea or coffee breaks this time. Supported clients to carry out their afternoon activities before bringing them home for the evening.

4.30 pm: Back in the car and on my way home. Monday has been conquered. Feeling a lot more tired – a possible side effect of being sick the last few days. Sunny drive home distracts me from the traffic. Some road works on the way home. Hunger pains have started by the time I pull up to my house.

5.30 pm: My partner is home before me. He has noticed the cat is sick. I ring the vet and bring the cat in straight away. Ear infection diagnosis. 10 minutes and €73 (€31.50 for my half) later, we are all home again.

6.00 pm: Dinner is a reheat – double was made yesterday. I go for a shower while my partner cooks up some chips. 20 minutes later, dinner is served. I relax and watch some Disney+ – Only Murders in the Building. Afterwards, I go to Aldi for some groceries (€5.35) and visit my dad for an hour and get some tea and apple crumble from him.

8.30 pm: Home again. I get my stuff ready for work tomorrow – lunch is leftovers, an easy fix. I sit down with my partner to watch a film – Ode to Joy (Netflix), Hilarious, I would recommend.

10.30 pm: Bed time. Monday is over.

Today’s total: €37.35

Tuesday

7.00 am: Rise and shine and in the car for work. There’s a money competition on the radio the last few weeks – slightly annoyed that my pay-as-you-go prohibits me from entering, and the chance of winning the competition is not good enough to buy extra credit to submit my text.

8.30 am: Office time again. Busy day today, lots of appointments. I check in with my clients and arrange times. Quick bite of breakfast this morning – porridge (brought in from home) and tea – supplied free of charge by the company. Off I go with this morning’s clients.

1.00 pm: Lunch time. The smell of my leftovers heating up has me drooling. Hunger is sedated and I am ready for this evening’s work.

5.30 pm: Back home. Dinner time. Salmon and stir fried veg. All ingredients in house. I quickly swallow it down so I can change and head to the gym.

7.30 pm: Back from the gym, I have a shower and a change into some comfy clothes. I quickly go online and register with the local basketball club. Registration fees for the year is €80. I have been saving a little bit the last few weeks into my Revolut account to cover this cost and once payment is completed, I transfer the money saved back into my account. It’s nice having it paid off without the bank balance changing

8.30 pm: Quick snack after the gym and I relax with my partner in front of the TV for the night. Another episode of Only Murders in the Building completed.

10.30 pm: Time for bed. Goodbye Tuesday.

Today’s total: €0

Wednesday

7.00 am: Beep, Beep, Beep. I allow myself to rest for 10 minutes (thank you snooze button). I grab some extra snacks today as I have pool with clients and I am staying on later for an evening activity with a client. Lunch bag and coffee cup full and off I go to work.

8.30 am: Message on the work phone. There’s a staff member out sick, so extra work this morning, cancelling appointments and rearranging clients. I also have to complete a return to work form as I myself was off sick the week previous. Finally paperwork done and out the door with clients.

1.00 pm: Lunch time. The extra snacks were required after the pool session. Off I go again. Halloween shopping and then out for supper. Still feeling pretty full from lunch, I decide to have a cuppa (covered through work) while my clients tuck into their supper. I drop them home before heading home myself.

7.30 pm: Back home. My partner has put together some dinner that was in the freezer. By now, I am hungry and happily accept his dinner offer. I head out for a short gym session after dinner to aid the few aches that have come on from last night’s session

9.30 pm: Home from the gym, a quick shower and the TV is on for the final episode of RTÉ’s Ultimate Hell Week. If you haven’t been watching it, you should! Delighted for the individuals who made it to the end.

10.30 pm: Hell Week finishes. I make a quick lunch for the morning and it’s off to bed I go.

Today’s total: €0

Thursday

6.50 am: I’m feeling very refreshed this morning and the cat is even up. A few morning cuddles before I get up and organise myself for work. I’m back in the car before I know it, taking the route for work.

8.30 am: Little paperwork to be done this morning. I start looking at my November timetable and begin slotting in some appointments that have been confirmed. I also do some research online to see if there are any Christmas events coming up that my client group might like to avail of. I create the list and print it off to discuss at a later stage with them.

10.00 am: Off I go with my morning clients. Roll on lunch time.

1.00 pm: Lunch time. I have developed a really sharp headache on the drive back from this morning’s activities. Luckily, there’s some paracetamol in my handbag. I take these with my lunch and drink a bottle of water hoping it will all aid the headache.

2.00 pm: With meds taken and extra water with me, I head out for the evening with my next set of clients.

5.00 pm: Finished work and on my way home. I stop on the way to fill up the car with Diesel (€63). Once I’m home, my partner and I quickly tidy up the house – I hate leaving the tidy-up for the weekend. Weekends are not meant for cleaning. Afterwards, I make dinner while my partner does some laundry.

7.00 pm: My partner and I sit down to eat and watch another episode of Only Murders in the Building – this has become our new watch this week. After we move onto Netflix and start a new series – Bad Sport. I just make it to the end – eyes are hanging at this stage with tiredness.

9.00 pm: My eyes can’t stay open. It’s time for bed.

Today’s total: €63

Friday

7.00 am: It’s Friday and I have a half day. Going to work this morning feels easy. I quickly leave out some nuts for the cat as he is up with me and off I go.

8.30 am: I complete a training course this morning whilst at work and I have a short period out with clients after.

1.30 pm: It’s home time. I drive straight to the bank. I have to pay a deposit for a music band for the wedding – €200 ( €100 on my behalf). After the bank, my sister calls – she is Covid-19 positive. She forwards me on a list of goods to collect for her. I oblige and drop the goods to the back door. I leave her the receipts and she Revolut’s me the total amount straight away.

3.00 pm: I’m back home and I grab a late lunch. I manage to make a sandwich with the last few food bits in the house and have a cuppa. My partner and I decide on takeaway for dinner later. I update him on my sister’s diagnosis and he informs me of how his day has been going.

4.00 pm: I transfer my partner €100 to cover the cost of rent and our Sky for the upcoming month. I also notice my gym membership (€35) and SIPTU (€17.33) have been paid out for the upcoming month. I chill for the afternoon and catch up with a friend over the phone. My savings have also come out this week (€180).

6.00 pm: Time flies when you’re having fun! I finish my phone call and I order dinner. I head up town and collect the takeaway – my other half is covering dinner this evening. We enjoy our pizza and put on a fire for the evening. A friend of ours calls in to wish us a happy engagement. We catch up over work and local stories before she heads off for the night.

9.30 pm: After our friend leaves, I have a shower and relax in my now very warm sitting room. Too tired to watch anything, I relax with the cat and browse online for clothes. I add a few bits to my basket but didn’t click the checkout button. I’ll give myself another day or two. I may change my mind, or want more.

11.20 pm: Time has gotten away from me. Time for bed

Today’s total: €432.33

Saturday

9.30 am: Late rise this morning. I get up and head to the shops for a food shop. A trip to Lidl and €77.34 later (my half – €38.67), I return with the fridge and food cupboards stocked for the upcoming week.

10.00 am: I grab a quick breakfast before I head to Tesco to check on any hair and showering products that might be on sale. Loads of offers in Tesco today – I spend €9.00 to update my hair and shower products for the next few weeks. After I visit our local convenience shop, I pick up their fuel bundle deal that should keep our fire going for the next two weeks. In total it’s €30, but I split the cost with my fiancé. (€15)

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1.00 pm: After finishing off the shop, I return home and have some lunch. After lunch, I visit my aunt to collect some eggs from the family farm and enjoy a coffee with her.

3.30 pm: When I get home from my aunts’, I make some banana bread to use up some overripe bananas and afterwards, I prepare dinner – turkey tacos. All ingredients were either in the house or picked up in the shop.

6.00 pm: Dinner time and the tacos are amazing! I relax after dinner and watch the final episode of Only Murders in the Building. Afterwards, my partner suggests we go for a walk and we take off around the town. It’s quiet tonight – even the bars are quiet walking past them. We talk about the restrictions and more importantly, will the last round of restrictions for indoor dining etc… I’m vaccinated, he currently is not. We stop at the local SuperValu for some dessert. I get a mini cheesecake. (€2.99)

9.00 pm: We return home and I jump into a shower to heat up. Then I have a cuppa with some cheesecake (it’s delicious!) and we sit down to watch something. After some time we agree on Black Widow on Disney+ and we pass the night away enjoying it.

11.30 pm: Film is over and I am exhausted! Time for bed.

Today’s total: €65.66

Sunday

9.30 am: Another lie-in. I do love the darker mornings, it makes for easier lie-ins. I get up with the cat and feed him and let him out. I tip away at some house work – dishwasher and laundry mostly. I enjoy some boiled eggs for breakfast and I sit down in front of the TV to enjoy my breakfast.

11.00 am: There is movement upstairs – my other half is up. He is heading out for a match this morning and will be back later. I wish him luck. I call to my mom and grandmother for the morning period.

1.30 pm: I return home and get dinner started. Slow Cooker is being used today and I add my meat and let it cook away. I prepare my veg, so later all I have to do is add hot water and turn on the cooker. I finish the last of the laundry and head to the gym for a session.

4.00 pm: I’m home from the gym. My partner is back and has started the fire. The smell from the slow cooker has filled the house. I get the vegetables and potatoes on and whilst they are cooking, I go for a shower.

5.00 pm: After my shower, I finish getting dinner ready. My partner and I enjoy our dinner – roast with all the trimmings and relax after, letting it digest. He watches some Sunday soccer whilst I browse through Facebook and Instagram on my phone. We clean up and put as much as possible into the dishwasher before heading for a walk in the local park.

8.00 pm: After returning from our walk, I get my lunch and work bits sorted for tomorrow. Unsure if I have pool tomorrow, I prep and add my swim bag to the car just in case. Once everything is sorted, I have a cup of tea and enjoy a slice of the banana bread.

9.30 pm: Kin (no spoilers, I promise) is starting on RTÉ. This show has become part of our Sunday routine.

10.30 pm: After another fantastic episode, I retire to bed. Another week approaches…

Today’s total: €0.00

Weekly subtotal: €598.34

***

What I learned -

  • I was a bit surprised at my spending this week – it was a little outside the norm with all the additional costs. After looking back over the week, I’m happy that I didn’t click checkout on my online shopping now!
  • I’m delighted to see my Disney+ account being used. My partner feels like I should get rid of it but it was used on many occasions this week. I also see that I like to eat and watch TV together. I would have grown up having my dinner at the table with family, but when it’s just my partner and I, the dinner table feels too formal.
  • I have a nice routine set up to try and have home-cooked meals most days of the week. I think dinner is always a potential way to spend extra money on takeaways rather than make it yourself. Although I may have to teach my other half a few meals so he can cover a day or two during the week.
  • Overall, I have enjoyed this money journal. I think I have a good grasp on my spending and whilst I had additional spending this week, I was able to complete the spending and still save in both my personal and joint account.

About the author:

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