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Money Diaries: An insurance consultant on €35K living in Munster

This week, our reader is busy renovating her home, which she purchased with her partner in August.

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 29-year-old quality control analyst on €54K living in Dublin. This week, an insurance consultant on €35K living in Munster.

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I am a 27-year-old insurance consultant living in Munster. I live about a 15-minute drive from my work office, so I drive to and from work Monday to Friday. We were home-based for most of the year, some are still at home but I am one of the minorities that struggled working from home and for my own mental health, jumped at the opportunity to get back into the office. For some, working from home was great. For others like myself, it did not suit my personality and the confinement to my house, in the middle of a house purchase and move was just stress I did not need or like.

After a couple of years of hard saving, my partner and I decided around October last year that the time was right for us to start looking to buy. We found our dream home in March of this year, went sale agreed in April, and after a long and exhausting few months (anyone who has bought a property in Covid times will know our struggles) we got our keys and moved into our forever home in August.

I would have always been an OK saver, but nothing heavy until I got my first “adult” job after college. Since my partner and I have lived together we have used a joint account for all household related expenses. In doing this, it keeps everything fair and equal and the money we have left in our own accounts is ours to do what we wish with, guilt free. We share all household bills, but individually both still have our own independent savings account. From my weekly paycheck every Friday, €170 goes into my own savings account, €150 goes into the joint account and €50.00 goes into my EBS savings account. I could cancel my EBS account and just add all my savings to the one account, but that EBS account was opened way back when as a home for the millions I got for my communion, so for nostalgia reasons, I cannot let it go!

Naturally, both my own and the joint account took a huge hit following the purchase of our home. A bitter pill to swallow, watching the money you have saved for years literally go in the space of one transaction but I think like everyone who has bought, we were happy in the decision to buy and not have to drown under crippling rents anymore. Our mortgage works out at around €880 a month, so once a month I transfer €440 into the joint account and from there the mortgage gets paid from direct debit.

Occupation: Insurance consultant
Age: 27
Location: Munster
Salary: €35,899
Monthly pay (net): €2,406.93

Monthly expenses

Transport: Approx. €120 diesel
Mortgage: €440
Joint savings: €600
Personal savings: €680
Household bills: Approx. €50 
Phone bill: €20
Health insurance: €96.80 (€24.20 via weekly salary deduction)
Groceries: Paid via our joint account
Subscriptions: €13.99 Spotify Premium Duo, €30.00 (€15.00 each) to two local animal shelters.

Monday

7.30 am: My partner has a training course up the country, so I took advantage of this and went back to my parents’ house Sunday night. Waking up in my old bed in my old bedroom for work this morning was a small bit disorienting. Being at my parent’s house makes me closer to work so took my time getting ready. I normally do the food shop for the week on a Sunday evening, but because I have come to my parents, that job has been pushed down to later in the week.

8.45 am: I arrive at work, turn my PC on and go to the canteen to make myself a coffee.

11.00 am: Usual time for me to eat my breakfast, generally not an early morning eater. I have a porridge pot that you just add water to on my desk from last week, so I have that and continue with clearing emails from the weekend.

12.00 pm: I have to sit in on a few interviews. Preparation for these roles has been ongoing for weeks and lining up possible candidates has taken time, so I am looking forward to getting the ball rolling on this.

1.00 pm: Lunch time here in the office and as I have no food shop done, I nip to Tesco and pick up a six pack of water, a banana, a yogurt, and some rice cakes. (€5.35)

1.45 pm: For Christmas every year, I volunteer to make a care pack for a local nursing home resident so they have something to open on Christmas Day. I head to Penneys for a nosey to see if there is anything I can pick up. This year I have gotten a male resident, so I pick up a packet of socks with the days of the week on each one for €7.00. It’s normally the letter people include in the care pack that the residents enjoy the most, but I still like to pick up a few small bits.

2.00 pm: Lunch ends, so I head back to work.

3.00 pm: With some staff still at home, I schedule a Zoom with my team to check in on them and air out any issues dragging from last week or potential issues for this week.

5.00 pm: Works finished for the day. Pre-Covid, I was a terror for lingering on in the evenings until maybe 7pm catching overtime and clocking more hours, but since the house purchase and Covid, I’ve re-aligned my work-to-life balance and now try my best to clock off at 5 and pick up where I left off in the morning (granted it’s nothing important).

5.35 pm: Partner’s course will continue until tomorrow, so I take this as another green light to retreat home to my parents’ house again. My mom has dinner ready on my arrival and knowing dinner was being cooked for me, I stopped in the shop on the way home and picked up an apple pie and some cream. (€3.70)

6.30 pm: I normally call over to my parents maybe a few times a week to say hi, but since I moved out at around 22, I generally only stay for Christmas etc., so I am relishing this unexpected stopover. I clean up from dinner and I decide to take my two dogs for a walk. I try my best to sneak getting ready for the walk but one of them sees me putting on the Hi-VIS. Game over. Ball burst. The excitement and knowledge of the walk cannot be hidden any longer, so I battle with two squirmy excited dogs to get their harnesses on, and off we go.

8.00 pm: Took a longer walk than expected around the town, but it was a glorious night and the two dogs seemed happy to stay out. Back at home now and I make some tea and head into the sitting room to wind down for the evening.

10.30 pm: After catching up on a bit of The Great British Bake Off with my mom, I head to bed. Haunted by the urge to scroll Tik Tok, I give in and finally switch off for bed at around 11.30 pm.

Today’s total: €16.05

Tuesday

7.00 am: I wake up before my alarm. I definitely think sleeping in my old room is playing tricks on me. My boyfriend’s back today so this will be the last of my “holiday mode” until Christmas. I have a habit of checking my accounts at the start of the week to see did my savings go to where they’re supposed to, did my pay come in and did my standing orders all go off ok. Everything seems good, so I get up, shower, and make a coffee.

12.15 pm: An absolute hell of a morning. System issues all morning and card payments not receipting. Any financial workers’ worst nightmare. The system finally comes back, so it is an afternoon of catching up.

1.00 pm: Never got a moment to get some breakfast today so I head over to a café and get soup and brown bread to go (€5.00) and have bottled water from yesterday’s purchase. 

1.25 pm: I get a call from our floorer. The hallway and sitting room is done so the green light can now be passed on to the painters to get going on downstairs. It has been so hard to get labourers for the renovations of the house we are doing. Thankfully things are tipping along nicely now. We are living in the house; it is by no means “done” but it is ours and we are both delira enough with that.

3.30 pm: Invoice comes in for my fuel card. I got a fuel card paired with my current account a few months back as it was offering a few cents off a litre, and I thought it could not hurt. It has worked out quite well for me. I now tend to get my diesel on a rotation basis more or less every Monday morning now. This invoice was for €63.90, and when I check my account, I see it has been taken by direct debit this afternoon.

4.00 pm: Waiting for a Zoom call to begin, so I take this chance to order my sister’s birthday present and one of my secret santa presents. I spend €68.99 on two gifts online. Nice to get a few presents out of the way!

5.10 pm: My partner’s home this evening from his course so my little holiday at my parents’ is over. I’d great intentions to do a shop and have a dinner cooking but when I arrive home, I’m met with a building site. With dust and materials all over the house, I quickly decide a dinner won’t be cooked today.

7.00 pm: En-route home, my partner picked up our bath that was ready for collection, so when he arrives we (he) carries in the bath and all the bits and bobs that he collected for the bathroom (tiles, grout, etc). Once that was all carried in, a joint decision was made that a McDonalds was deserved. He treated us, so nothing spent on my side.

8.30 pm: There was a bit of a road diversion due to a tree falling, so a longer than anticipated trip for food, but it was nice to have the chats and a little spin together. Since getting the keys and committing to doing the house up, whilst living there, I think sometimes we forget to make a little “us” time. I head for a shower when we get home.

10.30 pm: We watched the final of The Great British Bake Off (much to his despair) but I’m delighted with the winner.

Today’s total: €137.89

Wednesday

6.15 am: Woken by my partner’s phone ringing. It was our painters who advised they will be calling today. Exciting! They were waiting to start the job until all the flooring and skirting was done, so up out of bed with a pep in my step this morning. Long awaited the painters to start as some of the colour choices and paint application in the house haunts me.

8.00 am: Painters arrive bang on 8am. I have a little chat with them, double-check that they know paint choices and where to paint and I head off to work.

8.30 am: When I arrive at the work carpark, I realise the fridge and cupboards are literally bare for the painters, so I Revolut my partner who is working from home this morning €20.00 to nip to the shop to pick a few bits up for them (milk, teabags, biscuits, etc). They’re a great bunch of lads so I couldn’t have nothing in the house – my inner Irish mammy wouldn’t allow it!

11.20 am: Work flies this morning. Didn’t make my normal coffee this morning and I can definitely feel the lack of caffeine. I must call to the bank and withdraw monies for my half of the mortgage – payment is due Friday. I head out and get that done before I forget.

11.45 am: Lodge mortgage payment into joint account (€440.00) and while I was out, I get a notification that my Zara package is ready to collect in the post office, so I head over and get that.

1.10 pm: Few colleagues and I decided to go for lunch. I get a toastie with a side of chips with a water. (€8.95)

3.55 pm: I’m in the process of training in a new staff member at the moment, so most of my work days are consumed with that for now. I take some time to clear my own emails and check off some boring admin stuff before we have a group meeting at 4.15 pm.

4.20 pm: Thank god for text reminders. Forgot I booked in a nail appointment for myself today at 5pm in preparation for a trip we have to Belgium at the start of December (not sure how likely this is with current Covid situation now, but we live and hope). Haven’t had my nails done in over a year with the house works, so looking forward to this.

5.45 pm: Nails done, and I feel like a new woman. €30.00 well spent

6.15 pm: Home from work and my partner has meatballs cooking for dinner. I wouldn’t be blessed with great cooking skills, but I’m blessed that he is!

7.00 pm: Finish up dinner. As he cooked, I do the wash up. We then have a look around the house and take a look at the painters’ work so far. I make the decision to paint the stairs black, get my partner on board by showing Pinterest pictures, so the undercoat went on today and even that has changed the whole hallway look. Nervous wait now to see if the black stairs will actually be nice!

9.30 pm: Most nights now, my partner and I normally talk through interior ideas and paint options. We’re taking the renovation room by room, so we have nearly completed the sitting room and our sofa is due to be delivered in the next few weeks. We’ll start budgeting and looking into bathroom ideas now. How my evenings have changed!

10.30 pm: I’m in the middle of completing my Masters in insurance, so I take my laptop to the spare room where the desk is and begin looking at my latest assignment. Since the Leaving Cert, I’ve always worked my best in the evenings. Studying and assignments always get done best in the dead of night for me when I’ve no distractions.

12.10 pm: After a couple of hours researching and planning the layout of my assignment, I end it there for the night and head to bed.

Today’s total: €498.95

Thursday

7.00 am: Up early again this morning as the painters are coming again.

7.50 am: I leave a little bit earlier this morning because I was ready earlier than normal. I arrive in town and while passing McDonald’s, I succumb to the urge to get a drive-thru latte (€2.00). I don’t normally get takeaway coffees, but with no queue in the drive-thru this morning, how could I resist?

10.58 am: I take a break for breakfast and have my Weetabix and banana I brought from home. Not doing a food shop for this week has really limited my breakfast choices, so note to self – don’t skip a Sunday food shop again.

11.35 am: Work’s been the usual. Our new staff member seems to be grasping things really well so I think I’ll be letting them spread their wings solo for the rest of the evening and tomorrow to see how they get on.

12.53 pm: Radio is normally on in the background at work, but today a call with a night nurse who works with the Irish Cancer Society got my attention. It was a beautiful chat that described the work they do and I just thought what amazing people they are, so I pop onto the website and donate €20.00 and buy the Christmas ornament for €15.00. My parents always instilled in us to give what we can, when we can and I’m fortunate enough that I can offer something, and I hope it makes a small difference somewhere.

1.10 pm: I break for lunch and I have the classic ham sandwich with soup for my lunch today that I brought from home.

5.00 pm: I log off for the day and head home.

5.30 pm: I arrive home and the painters have made a huge dent in the hallway and landing – delighted! My partner’s still working so I grab a few bags and head to Aldi to do a shop. I pick up a few things for lunch tomorrow and for dinner for the weekend. We use our joint card for all food shops so that covered this bill.

7.00 pm: Cooked chicken in a tomato sauce with some cauliflower rice and veg. Still not sure if I actually like cauliflower rice, but it’s not the worst so I’ll eat it over normal rice to be “good”. He’s still on and off calls for the evening so I take one for the team and do the wash up as well.

8.30 pm: My dad calls around as he will be the one fitting the kitchen, so we chat about that over a cup of tea and he measures a few bits.

10.30 pm: I now know for sure I get my chat from my dad. When he calls he stays for hours chatting, I love it. I wave him off, lock up and I head to bed to watch some Netflix (I still sign in to the family Netflix).

Today’s total: €37.00

Friday

7.45 am: I snooze my alarm a bit this morning, but I finally get up and get ready for work.

8.10 am: I head off with a wrap with some cheese, lettuce, chicken and some rice cakes with me to have for lunch, along with two Weetabix for breakfast.

10.15 am: I remember the Lotto money is due for the syndicate in work. I’ve €20.00 in my purse so I add that to the envelope on my floor for the Lotto and that will cover me for November and December.

11.10 am: The system at work is still so slow. I’m not sure if it’s just my PC or not but it’s really dragging, so opening any emails or Excels is taking forever. I reboot my PC and go for my breakfast in the canteen.

12.30 pm: I ring my mom for a chat. Since The Late Late Toy Show is on this evening, she invites me and my partner to come around for a takeaway and watch it there. She knows well we have no sofa to sit and relax on, so I take this invite and run with it! I will provide the takeaway though. My parents have helped us so much with the move so me getting a takeaway of a Friday is a no brainer.

1.15 pm: The wrap I made myself for lunch was actually very nice. I used some garlic mayo I found in the fridge and that made it I think.

3.05 pm: I’ve downloaded the projections and policy list for January this afternoon so for the rest of the evening, I’ll be dividing up the Excels and getting them ready for my team to crack on with the start of next week.

5.00 pm: I log off bang on the button as it’s Friday and it’s been a long week. Head out of work and home.

6.00 pm: I have a quick shower and get into my comfies. I ring for the takeaway and gather a few sweet treats to bring over with me to my parents for the Toy Show.

6.30 pm: My partner drives and I nip in to collect the takeaway. (€46.00)

9.25 pm: Full belly and ready and waiting for the Toy Show. Not sure why we even watch it anymore, there’s no children in the house. Maybe it’s just an Irish thing. Fire on, dogs on my lap, that’s me set for the night now.

12.30 am: We head home and straight to bed.

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Today’s total: €66.00

Saturday

10.00 am: I have an unexpected lie-in. Normally rise with no alarm around nine-ish so that was nice. My partner is still sleeping so I get up and get the breakfast going. We have a few frozen pain au chocolats and croissants in the freezer, so I bang those in the oven and boil a few eggs. Nigella Lawson who??

11.00 am: Ready for the day of cleaning ahead. With the house under renovation, I tend not to clean too much throughout the week as I’ve learnt the hard way: if I clean an area some evening, be sure it will be dusty and dirty the following eve. I do a blitz clean of the bathrooms and kitchen and hoover and sweep the hallway.

2.00 pm: Didn’t think I was cleaning for that long, but at least the house looks a little bit more homey! My partner’s told me we’re heading into town this eve for 6pm, so I do a bit of laundry and clean the bedroom of my disregarded clothes from the week.

3.30 pm: I’m ready to leave and so is my partner so we head to town and look around the shops. I’ve had my eye on a garland for the fireplace for a while, so I pick that up for €47.99. My partner doesn’t understand the price of Christmas decorations. Lucky I’m here to steer us right!

5.30 pm: Strolling around and I realise he’s brought me to town because it’s the Christmas parade and turning on of the Christmas lights. What a gem he is. We get a bag of chips (his treat) and stand and watch the parade pass by.

6.20 pm: The parade was just lovely and seeing and hearing the children scream with delight when Santa drove past was just so nice. It’s a stark reminder of how much “children” things they have lost out on over the past year and a bit, so I’m delighted they had tonight to have fun. If my boyfriend and I at age 27 had a fun evening, I can only imagine how the children felt!

7.00 pm: I’d planned on meeting my girls at one of their houses this eve for a catch up. Wine will be on the cards, so I grab two bottles from the shop (€28.00) and my partner en-route to his own friends drops me up.

1.00 am: Time flies when you’re having fun. I buzz my partner to come and collect me. Home again to bed after a lovely evening of Christmas and fun with friends. How I’ve missed it!

Today’s total: €75.99

Sunday

11.30 am: Definitely a wine-induced lie-in, but I won’t complain. It was worth it. My partner has some sausages going and a pot of tea ready, so I join him in the kitchen and we have breakfast and the chats.

1.00 pm: We got a few paint pot testers for one of the bedrooms. We’re not getting any of the bedrooms professionally painted as it would just cost too much, and also we’ve no idea what colours or what the bedrooms will be used for. We get out the big bucket of brilliant white and the rollers and we white wash the room.

4.00 pm: It’s a small single room, so we get the walls all white and I start the cutting in along the coving and skirting.

4.50 pm: My dad calls over as he’s fitting the kitchen, so we stop for a cup of tea. My partner helps him in the kitchen and I continue the cutting in.

6.00 pm: It’s dark out now, but most of the room is now all white and ready to be painted when we pick a colour. I take the roller tray and brushes outside and wash them.

7.30 pm: A shower and another cup of tea later, I’m in the kitchen thinking what we’ll have for dinner. There’s two frozen pizzas, so I throw those in for us with some chips and garlic bread.

8.15 pm: I clean up the kitchen after dinner and I think after our productive day, an early night is on the cards.

9.00 pm: We tuck in for bed and we throw on some Peaky Blinders. I kind of watched this in college but I can’t remember any of it so we started it again this week.

Today’s total: €0.00

Weekly subtotal: €831.88

***

What I learned -

  • I definitely need some sort of food plan for the week. I think sticking to doing a weekly shop will help this. Those takeaways are not helping my bank balance or my hips!
  • With having no direct debits anymore (car loan paid off, rent gone), I feel I for sure have more disposable income. After years of saving, my mindset has shifted now to enjoying my money as I feel this is fair. But I could perhaps throw some more in my own savings for the future.
  • With doing up the house, it’s so easy to get carried away buying the nicest of the nice things, such a fancy showers and expensive tiles, so I am lucky my partner keeps me grounded because I for sure could drop hundreds on something simply because I like it. I sometimes spend with my heart and he spends with his head, so he certainly keeps me in check if I do rock up with something overly expensive or if one too many Zara boxes start flooding in. I could definitely learn not to get my eye turned so quickly or part with my money so fast.

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