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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 28 June 2022

How I Spend My Money: An e-commerce worker on €35,000 saving to build his own house

He has kept up his hobbies despite many cutbacks.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a new series on TheJournal.ie 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.

Last week, we kicked off the series with diaries from people saving for a mortgage.

A bank employee and an editor told us of the cutbacks they have made to save, and today an account coordinator at an e-commerce company in Dublin walks us through his 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.


Occupation: Account coordinator at an e-commerce company
Age: 28
Location: Phibsboro (living with fiancée)
Salary: €35,000 (Combined ~€70,000)
Monthly pay (net): €2,395

Monthly expenses
Rent: €1,100 (between two people)
Household bills: €100 (€50 each)
Transport: €75
Phone bill: €35
Health insurance: €0
Pension: €340
Loans: €350 (student loans)
Groceries: €200 (between two people)
Subscriptions: Netflix, Spotify Family, podcasts: €40 (between two people)

We are saving towards a mortgage and starting the process of building our own house on a plot of land in the outskirts of Dublin that was a gift from my future in-laws. In total we are saving about €1,400 between us per month.

We aren’t far off the total we need for the deposit, but we are trying to get ahead of any unforeseen costs during the build. We have been renting in the same place for the last four years. The rent is very reasonable considering some of the prices now and most of our bills are included in what we pay.



7.15 am - Wake up and get ready for work. Grab my breakfast and lunch prepared the night before, usually a stir fry or a pasta bake of some sort. Generally I make big batches at the weekend and I can stretch three to four days out of it. Out the door at 7.40 am for the Luas, stop is beside our house so very convenient. I top up my Leap for the week on my way. €20

8.00 am - In work, breakfast is cereal brought in from home and a coffee from the work machine. Saved the price of a coffee shop coffee, it’s a small cost but really adds up over the week. 

1.00 pm - Lunchtime. Having my chicken stir fry I made yesterday, it is so cheap to make and it will cover me for a few days. 

2.30 pm - Mid-afternoon lull, another coffee in work, another €2.50 saved.

4.30 pm - Finished work for the day, getting the Luas home. I try to walk home as much as I can but if I have something planned for the evening I’ll use public transport.

5.30 pm - Having stew for dinner, again a great meal to make in a big batch. I try to alternate between the meals I make for dinner and lunch, so I’ll bring the stew to work tomorrow and have the stir fry for dinner. 

6.30 pm - Meeting a friend for our weekly game of snooker, great exercise and passes a few hours. €15.

9.00 pm - Home and parked up watching TV, the fiancée has been falling asleep since 8.30 pm, I am glowing from my win. 

10.00 pm - Bedtime, will read for an hour or two before nodding off.

Today’s total: €35


7.15 am - Awake. Breakfast and lunch thrown into my bag. Off to work.

8.00 am - This is a very boring part of my day, but it feels good having the work coffee for free.

1.00 pm - Stew today. I much prefer eating something I have made myself for a few reasons, it tends to taste better, I know exactly what has went into it and it is much better value. The stew I make costs me about €8 and we can get four to five good portions out of it, compared to at least €5 per day on bought lunches.

4.30 pm - Getting the Luas home again, more plans this evening.

5.15 pm - Quick bite before heading off to play five-a-side.

6.00 pm - Getting the bus up to football. Costs €5.50 for the game.

8.30 pm - Bus home, fiancée is delighted to have me out of the house for a few evenings a week.

10.00 pm - Bedtime, less reading today because I’m wrecked.

Today’s total: €5.50


7.30 am - Harder to get out of bed this morning, makes it easier knowing I have all my food ready for the day.

8.00 am - Usual routine, free coffee and meals prepared.

4.30 pm - Walking home today, saves the price of the Luas journey and is free exercise.

6.00 pm - Food rations are running low, need to make dinner and lunches for the end of the week. Smaller batch of lunches today made using things from the big weekly shop – it only has to last me to Friday.

7.30 pm - Lunches made and dinner eaten, time for date night. Off to the cinema to see Blackkklansman using a two-for-one weekly voucher. At €10, it’s a steal – I’d highly recommend the deal and the movie.

10.30 pm - Home and time for bed.

Today’s total: €10


7.15 am - Usual routine, nothing exciting or out of the ordinary, just trying to stop myself from buying snacks after lunch – it gets easier once you break the routine.

4:30 pm - Walking home after work, again.

6.00 pm - Burgers for dinner, again from the big weekly shop. We have tried to stop buying any food during the week apart from milk when needed. If we keep everything in the weekly shop, it’s much easier to keep a track of it.

10.30 pm - In bed and looking forward to the weekend

Today’s total: €0 (Excellent!)

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7.15 am - Average day, I try to stay away from the Friday treats habit. I find I don’t miss it at all, was more routine than anything before.

6.00 pm - Getting a bus to the future in-laws house for the weekend. It is right beside our new house site so we can go up and look at an empty field all weekend. Bliss. €15 for a return ticket.

9.00 pm - Having a few beers courtesy of the fiancée’s parents. The only thing I like better than free coffee is free beer! 

11.30 pm - Bedtime. 

Today’s total: €15


8.30 am - Weekend wake up time.

9.00 am - Making a big breakfast of pancakes with ingredients that the future in-laws have already bought. Pancakes are actually a very cheap option for a weekend breakfast in and go a long way.

12.00 pm - Doing some research for the build. It helps to keep focus on the goal and why we are saving so much. We try to do this a few times during the week.

1.30 pm - Making the dinner, we haven’t paid for the materials, so it’s only fair that we make it.

3.00 pm - Walking the dogs around the fields, getting used to the countryside again. This all helps with the acclimatisation I’ll need when we leave Dublin next year.

7.00 pm - Movie night in, very relaxed.

11.00 pm - Bedtime.

Today’s total: €0 (My younger self would be appalled at my Saturday spending. My current self is delighted.)


8.30 am - Up and helping around the farm. Some wood to be cut this morning for the fire.

4.00 pm - Dinner done and getting ready for the bus back to Dublin. 

6.00 pm - Back in Dublin and doing the big shop for the week. We do a meat shop about once a month where we get a few things on offer, like a three for €10, then we can top up over the weeks if we need to. This is not one of those weeks. The shops average out at around €50 per week for the two of us, that covers all meals most weeks with the odd added expense of things we need around the house. €38

7.00 pm - Shopping put away and now making the lunches for the start of the week. With big batches, the more we make them the better we get at them so it’s win-win. I try to mix up the meats and the sauces used, but the meals are all variations of the same few things really. This means they are easy to make and I don’t get bored of them really.

10.30 pm - In bed and happy that everything is in order for the start of the week.

Today’s total: €38

Weekly subtotal: €103.50

What I’ve learned:

  • Cut out coffee from coffee shops. I used to drink them every day, but they are a complete waste of money.
  • Walk when you can. If you aren’t under time pressure the savings can add up.
  • Don’t give up your hobbies. You need to have something to look forward to, it’s money spent and not money wasted. You will go insane if you cut out every little thing.
  • Try to avoid going out drinking or at least cut back. We rarely go out and keep to the events now (weddings, birthdays, etc). We don’t miss it too much and it makes the times we do go out better because it’s more of an occasion. This works for us and saves a lot of money in the long run.
  • We have also cut out holidays for this year, and probably next. We are thinking bigger picture so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. We have a few weekends away planed actually. We found return tickets to the UK for less than €60 all-in recently, so that is something for us to look forward to.

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. 

About the author:

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