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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 10 December, 2018
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How I Spend My Money: A doctor in Galway on €59,500 saving for her own home

A costly work trip abroad takes a toll on her plans to save.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a 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.

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.  

A number of people saving for a mortgage have written about how they’re squeezing every penny, this week a doctor in Galway talks about what gets in the way of their saving plans.

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Occupation: Doctor
Age: 30
Location: Galway
Salary: €59,500
Monthly pay (net): €3,500 (more or less depending on call/overtime)

Monthly expenses
Rent:  €1,000 (between two people)
Household bills: €160
Transport: €200 on petrol
Phone bill: €30
Health insurance: €95
Groceries: €460 (approx between two people)
Subscriptions: Netflix (€10.99)

My partner, who is a farmer, and I live in the countryside. He doesn’t get a weekly wage, he just gets big lump sums a couple of times a year.

I’ve saved a deposit of nearly €30,000 over the past 18 months or so, but I’m afraid I’ll have to dip into my house savings for a training scheme abroad that’s on the horizon. I’ll have to go to America for that and need about €5,000 scurried away because there’s a lot of costs up front.

Saving has become the new normal for us. I was originally planning to just save up for the mortgage deposit and figured at the end I’d magically have a house. But this training abroad means I’m essentially eating away at those savings.

***

Monday

7:30 am – I drive to work and have breakfast in the car. Nothing fancy, just a coffee and banana from home.

11:00 am – Time for our tea and coffee break in work. Even though we have a coffee machine in our office, I go and buy one for €2.10. A few of us in work tried to break the habit. We got a machine after someone else in work was horrified at how much he was spending on coffee by just tapping his card for every purchase. We had this great plan we would each buy a carton of capsules and switch to the machine. Now, it was a great idea, but we just don’t do it.

1:00 pm – This is usually when I get a chance for some lunch. I don’t splash out most days, just €5 for some soup and a sandwich. 

1:30 pm – At the beginning of the week, I make myself take out cash. It’s much harder to hand over actual money than just tapping your card for everything. That’s helping a lot. I pay the groceries and petrol with my card and other than that I make myself pay for things in cash. I’m much more conscious of handing over actual legal tender than just tapping my card.

5:00 pm – Drive home. Traffic isn’t great, but that’s Galway for you. Once I get home, it’s time to make dinner.

7:00 pm – I watch bloggers’ Instagram stories in the evening as a way to chill out. That’s replaced magazines for me, which I don’t buy anymore. I used to get the likes of Cosmopolitan, the glossy magazines, and would drop about €6 or €7 on them. I wouldn’t have even counted that as money being gone, I didn’t realise it was such a waste. Everything I would have seen in magazines I can get from following bloggers. Even if I wasn’t saving, I don’t think I’d go back to buying magazines. They would just end up half-read and stacked up in a corner.

Today’s total: €7.10

Tuesday

7:30 am – More of the same, but I upgrade to yogurt in the car. I live outside the city and because I go in so early, I would grab stuff and bring it in the car. I never have time to eat breakfast in the house. I have it timed to perfection to roll out of bed and into the car to go to work and be exactly on time. Essentially I sacrifice breakfast for bed.

11:00 am – We’re so busy in work, so I don’t get a chance to pop out and buy a coffee, or even get one from the machine. So I just have to skip that break.

1:00 pm – Same deal as yesterday, my soup and sandwich delight for €5. I stick to my routine lunch these days to try and save money – I don’t mind it so much.

7:00 pm – Dinner at home, again.

Today’s total: €5

Wednesday

6:00 am – I’ve got a long day ahead. I’m flying to Edinburgh today for a course – it’s something I have to attend for work. I paid the €149 for flights a few weeks ago. I get the train to Dublin first thing and once I land I’m on the bus to the airport. All in all, it costs me €28.

9:00 am – It’s already felt like a long day, so I get breakfast at the airport for €10

11:00 am – Once I’m in Edinburgh, I need to get out to the hotel for the course. So I get a taxi which costs €15.

7:00 pm – The long day is over and I head out of the hotel to find somewhere for dinner. It comes to about €22.

8:00 pm – I have a glass of wine in the hotel because I wanted to use room service. At €11, it’s quite pricey but I needed it. The whole thing is pricey, and it’s not just the cost of these courses, the problem is they really eat into your own personal time. They’re semi-mandatory, we don’t want to do them, but there’s no choice. 

Today’s total: €86

Thursday

9:00 am – It’s not too costly a day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided at the course. That said, the course cost £460 (which I paid for months ago), so they’d want to be providing food.

11:00 am – Despite all the free food, I spent around €7 on snacks to keep me going during the day.

Today’s total: €7

Friday

9:00 am – As I check out of the hotel, I pay €250 for the two nights I stayed. We have to travel to these courses for work and as you can see they really add up. I was at another course recently that was at the weekend – you don’t get time back for them from work, it’s just gone. You also have to pay for them yourself and cough up the money. We all have a training fund, which is €2,000 over four years, but there’s no way it would cover everything.

1:00 pm – We get lunch at the course again, so no expense there. 

5:00 pm – Day over! I split a taxi out to the airport with a friend, which handily halves the cost to €15.

6:30pm – I grab dinner, which costs €22, at the airport before running to get my flight.

8:30pm – No hanging around once I land back in Dublin, I’m straight on the bus back to Galway. The single ticket home comes in at €20.

Today’s total: €307

Saturday

12:00pm – Time for some grocery shopping. We usually do it on Saturday and today’s bill came in at €130. I always have a list of what I think we need. We used to just throw things into the cart, but it meant we ended spending so much more.

6:00 pm – After an expensive week due to the course, we stay in for the evening. We don’t really go out anymore at all. Instead, I usually buy a treat like a tub of ice-cream or a bottle of wine, because it’s kind of depressing since we’re not doing much.

Today’s total: €130

Sunday

2:00 pm – Myself and my partner stay in for most of the day, but eventually we head off for a drive. It’s important to get out of the house.

5:00 pm – After the drive, have dinner out, which came in at about €57. In the end, we decided we needed a treat at the end of the week. It’s been a long one.

Today’s total: €57

Weekly subtotal: €599.10

What I’ve learned:

  • The shopping list has been a big help to our savings. We used to run around the shop and throw everything in, but now I make a list. I never made a list before in my whole life before this, but we started because we were wasting so much food. So my advice is make a list and stick to it.
  • This wasn’t a regular week for me. Usually we would have to be on call at least one of the evenings in work. To pass the time in those evenings, I’d scroll through Instagram, which would lead to online shopping. I would say to myself, “I’ll get this lipstick as a treat after call.” I don’t let myself do online shopping anymore though. I was in a habit of doing it because I was doing so much call for work. I missed it at first, but now if I want something like a dress I see online, I’ll go try it on and if I really like it, I’ll buy it.

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. 

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